New Hearing in Andrej Babis’s Capi Hnizdo Case Set For 14-15 February

The case concerns a CZK 50 million subsidy for the construction of Capi hnizdo, a multifunctional congress centre south of Prague. Credit: Andrej Babis, via Facebook.

Prague, Dec 14 (CTK) – The Prague Metropolitan Court has ordered a new hearing in the Capi Hnizdo case, relating to alleged subsidy fraud involving opposition ANO leader and ex-PM Andrej Babis, for 14-15 February. The court plans to hear two experts and take documentary evidence, its spokesman Adam Wenig told CTK yesterday.

In the case concerning a CZK 50 million subsidy for the construction of Capi hnizdo (Stork’s Nest), a multifunctional congress centre south of Prague, Babis is facing charges along with his former adviser Jana Nagyova. The court acquitted them both this January, but the verdict was overturned by the Prague High Court in September.

“The main trial has been ordered for 14 and 15 February 2024, with two expert witnesses being called for 14 February. Furthermore, documentary evidence will be taken, all in the context of the reasons as expressed by the Prague High Court’s reasoning of its decision to annul [the acquittal verdict],” Wenig said.

He said that the head of the Municipal Court’s panel of judges, Jan Sott, asked the prosecution and defence lawyers if they proposed any further evidence. “At the moment, no further evidence has been proposed. The defendants, on their part, have said that their own decision whether to testify will depend on the course of the main trial,” Wenig said.

In September, the High Court, as the court of appeals, ruled that the lower court’s acquittal verdict had flaws that the appeals court could not correct on its own. Among other things, the High Court ordered the Municipal Court to take evidence, which it said needed to be supplemented. The High Court also said it found Sott panel’s handling of the evidence “unconvincing, inconsistent and incomplete”.

“Some of the evidence was not taken at all, other pieces were not incorporated into the assessment part of the verdict despite having been taken. This includes the failure to consider all the evidence in its entirety, where the court dealt with only certain time-limited sections of the entire [Capi hnizdo] project without placing it in all the contexts that complete it and need to be given due attention,” High Court spokeswoman Katerina Kolarova said in a press release in November.

In the indictment, prosecutor Jaroslav Saroch claims that Babis arranged for the separation of the Farma Capi Hnizdo from his giant Agrofert holding, and for the sale of shares in it to his children and partner at the turn of 2007 and 2008, before he entered politics. According to investigators, he did this so that the resort would appear to meet the conditions for a CZK 50 million subsidy intended for small and medium-sized enterprises.

The prosecution says Nagyova successfully applied for the subsidy. She has been charged with subsidy fraud and damaging the EU’s financial interests, and Babis with aiding and abetting subsidy fraud. Both defendants have repeatedly denied guilt.

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