Czech court cancels lower court ruling that acquitted former PM Babis of fraud charges

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PRAGUE (AP) — Prague’s High Court cancelled a lower court ruling that acquitted former Prime Minister Andrej Babis of fraud charges in a $2 million case involving European Union subsidies.

The court returned the case for retrial to Prague’s Municipal Court, according information published in a database of court documents on Friday.

The High Court issued the verdict a day earlier but didn’t make it immediately public.

The Babis case involved 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. Agrofert later returned the subsidy.

Prague’s Municipal Court also acquitted in January his former associate, Jana Nagyova, who signed the subsidy request.

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

It is not immediately clear when the retrial might take place.

Babis, a billionaire, is currently in the opposition after his populist ANO centrist movement lost the 2021 parliamentary election. He was running to become the Czech president in the election for the largely ceremonial post in January but lost to Petr Pavel, a retired army general.

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