Czech PM Babis to be stripped of immunity for the third time

After defeat in October’s parliamentary election, Babiš became an ordinary MP but remained the leader of ANO (Renew), the strongest opposition party in the Czech parliament. [EPA-EFE / Martin Divisek]

Prague prosecutor’s office asked the newly-elected Czech parliament to strip outgoing Prime Minister Andrej Babiš of parliamentary immunity. As the majority of the new parliament is now formed by opposition parties critical of Babiš, it is expected they will comply with the request without any delays.

Heads of political groups in the Czech parliament confirmed to Deník N that they would vote in favour of lifting Babiš’s immunity and that the necessary majority for such a step should be formed easily.

“It is made-to-order criminal prosecution,” Babiš said in reaction to the prosecutor’s request.

It will be the third time the Czech parliament is voting on Babiš’s immunity. The parliament has already lifted Babiš’s immunity twice – for the first time in 2017 and then in 2018 after the parliamentary elections. The police have repeatedly recommended Babiš’s indictment, however the prosecutor decided to suspend the proceedings due to new circumstances that appeared during the investigation.

Czech police have already filed new findings based on interviews with witnesses, for example, with Babiš’s son who accuses his father of dragging him into the case against his will.

Babiš could be indicted for involvement in the so-called “Stork Nest” case. The Stork Nest Farm was originally part of Babiš’s former holding Agrofert, but for a few years, it changed its status and became a joint-stock company. During this period, it received a €2 million EU subsidy designed for small and medium-sized businesses. After a couple of years, it was returned back to the Agrofert holding.

According to the European Commission’s audit office, Agrofert is still controlled by Babiš and thus, the Czech PM is in a conflict of interest. Babiš denies any wrongdoing.

(Aneta Zachová | EURACTIV.cz)

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