Čapí hnízdo recreation area in Olbramovice, Czech Republic via Wikimedia / Richenza

State prosecution of PM Andrej Babiš over the Čapí hnízdo subsidy fraud case will continue, top Czech attorney decides

Czech Supreme State Attorney Pavel Zeman has cancelled the decision to halt the prosecution of Prime Minister Andrej Babiš

Brno, Dec 4 (CTK) – Czech Supreme State Attorney Pavel Zeman has cancelled the decision to halt the prosecution of PM Andrej Babiš over the Čapí hnízdo case of a suspected EU subsidy fraud, and Babiš’s prosecution thus continues, with his file returning to the supervising state attorney, Zeman told media today.

Out of several suspects whose prosecution the supervising state attorney Jaroslav Saroch halted in September, the prosecution of Jana Mayerova, a member of the Farma Čapí hnízdo company, will also continue, while the prosecution of Babiš’s family members has ended definitively, Zeman decided.

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His legal opinion is binding on Saroch, the Prague municipal state attorney in charge of the case. He has to react according to the top attorney’s instructions.

“At present, the gathered evidence does not enable to either file criminal charges over the affair or halt the prosecution,” Zeman said.

He said he does not anticipate what the result of the investigation should be, and that presumption of innocence must be respected in the case of both accused persons, Babiš and Mayerova.

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Babis has dismissed any wrongdoing on his part.

Pavel Zeman said that his check of Saroch’s decision uncovered shortcomings in terms of both factual and legal assessments. In this connection, he mentioned an incorrect assessment of evidence and an incomplete evaluation of the European law.

Zeman also critically commented on the operation of the relevant Regional Council that granted subsidies to the Čapí hnízdo (Stork Nest) conference and recreation complex project south of Prague in the late 2000s. Mainly in the initial phase, the Council assessed the project too formally, without checking the structure of the subsidy seeker, the Farma Čapí hnízdo company.

Zeman definitively confirmed the halt to the prosecution of Babiš’s wife Monika, his daughter from the first marriage Adriana Bobekova, Babiš’s brother-in-law Martin Herodes and former Farma Čapí hnízdo company member Josef Nenadal.

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He said no subjective aspect of criminal activities has been proved in their case.

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The Farma Čapí hnízdo company, at that time under the name ZZN Agro Pelhrimov, was originally a part of Babiš’s giant Agrofert holding. In December 2007, Čapí hnízdo became a joint stock company with bearer shares.

In the summer of 2008, it received a 50-million-crown subsidy within a programme for small and medium-sized businesses it would have never reached as a part of Agrofert. After a couple of years of observing the subsidy conditions, Čapí hnízdo returned to Agrofert.

Babis transferred the Agrofert concern to trust funds in 2017 when he was finance minister in order to avoid conflict of interest accusations.

The police launched prosecution against Babiš and other suspects over Čapí hnízdo in late 2017, but Saroch halted it in September 2019.

In reaction to the top attorney’s decision, Agrofert spokesman Karel Hanzelka said Agrofert has only media information for now.

“Since the beginning, we have been convinced that everything in the Capi hnizdo case occurred in accordance with law. We believe that this will finally be proved,” Hanzelka told CTK

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President Milos Zeman previously said that if the prosecution were reopened, he would grant abolition to Babis, which would prevent his prosecution. Babis, on his part, repeatedly said he would not accept presidential abolition, which, to take effect, must be countersigned by the prime minister.

Presidential spokesman Jiri Ovcacek has tweeted that President Milos Zeman will comment on top attorney Pavel Zeman’s decision in his regular interview on TV Barrandov on Thursday night.

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