Czech Lower House to Vote on Lifting Babis’ Immunity for EU Fraud Prosecution

Czech acting Supreme Public Prosecutor Jaroslav Šaroch will ask the lower house of parliament to lift the immunity from prosecution of  Prime Minister Andrej Babis (ANO) so he can be tried in the Stork’s Nest case, where he is alleged to have committed fraud with EU subsidies.

This vote will take place after the constituent session of the new Chamber of Deputies on November 8, confirmed Ales Cimbala, a spokesperson for the Prague City Prosecutor’s Office, to the Czech News Agency.

“The public prosecutor’s office is bound only by the Criminal Procedure Code in its activities, and for that reason it must now respect the fact that one of the accused persons has regained his parliamentary mandate and the immunity that goes with it. No criminal proceedings can currently be taken against this person,” Cimbala explained.

Šaroch was originally supposed to make a decision on the police’s motion to file charges by October 20, but given that Babis regained his seat in the house after the general election with an MP´s immunity, his prosecution is now again suspended. Today’s decision to move to lift Babis’ immunity does not necessarily mean that Saroch agrees that there is now enough evidence to go to trial.

“The Chamber of Deputies will be asked to extradite this person for further criminal prosecution following the establishment of the relevant bodies of the Chamber,” Cimbala added.

The Chamber of Deputies has already handed Babis over for prosecution twice, first in September 2017 and then in January 2018 after the elections in which Babis was re-elected.

Šaroch returned the case to the police for further investigation at the beginning of September, due to the uncovering of new information. His predecessor had resigned, complaining of interference by ANO’s justice minister, who had herself been appointed in place of an insufficiently loyal predecessor.

Both Babis and his family have been charged as part of the investigation into allegations of how €2.3mn in EU funds were allegedly falsely obtained by the Stork’s Nest conference centre, for which Babis’ son Andrej Babis junior was one of the nominal owners.

The EU funds were designated for small enterprises, while according to police and an EU investigation, the complex was in reality always part of the premier’s Agrofert conglomerate. Babis dismisses both the EU and Czech probes as political attacks.

 

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