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Former Czech Prime Minister Babis acquitted for second time in $2 million fraud case

former-czech-prime-minister-babis-acquitted-for-second-time-in-$2-million-fraud-case
Former Czech Prime Minister Babis acquitted for second time in $2 million fraud case
  • Former Prime Minister Andrej Babis was acquitted for the second time in a $2 million fraud case related to European Union subsidies by a Prague court.
  • Babis, who pleaded not guilty, claimed the charges were politically motivated.
  • The prosecution can still appeal the verdict, having requested a three-year suspended sentence and a fine for Babis.

A Prague court on Wednesday acquitted for the second time former Prime Minister Andrej Babis of fraud charges in a $2 million case involving European Union subsidies.

Babis had pleaded not guilty and repeatedly said the charges against him were politically motivated.

The prosecution can still appeal the verdict. It had requested a three-year suspended sentence and a fine to be paid by the populist billionaire.

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Prague’s Municipal Court previously acquitted Babis and Nagyova last year in January. In September, Prague’s High Court canceled the lower court’s decision and ordered the case to be retried at the same court.

Andrej Babis

Presidential candidate and former Czech Republic’s Prime Minister Andrej Babis speaks to members of the media, in Prague, Czech Republic, on Jan. 28, 2023. A Prague court has acquitted Babis for the second time of fraud charges in a $2 million case involving European Union subsidies. (AP Photo/Marko Drobnjakovic, File)

The case centered around a farm known as the Stork’s Nest, which received EU subsidies after its ownership was transferred from the Babis-owned Agrofert conglomerate of around 250 companies to Babis’ family members. Later, Agrofert again took ownership of the farm.

The subsidies were meant for medium- and small-sized businesses and Agrofert wouldn’t have been eligible for them. The conglomerate later returned the subsidy.

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Babis’ former associate, Jana Nagyova, who signed the subsidy request, was also acquitted.

Judge Jan Sott said what they did was not considered criminal.

Babi has become part of the country’s opposition after his populist ANO centrist movement lost the 2021 parliamentary election. He also contended for the largely ceruminous post of president in January last year but lost to Petr Pavel, a retired army general.

ANO is currently leading in public polls as the most popular political group in the country.

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