Monday, 23 October 2017

Babiš dismisses Slovak ruling on StB cooperation

ČTK |
13 October 2017

Prague, Oct 12 (CTK) - Political rivals will abuse the case in the ongoing election campaign, ANO leader Andrej Babis has said about the Slovak Constitutional Court's verdict cancelling the court decision that he was wrongly registered as agent of the Communist StB secret police, meted out earlier on Thursday.

Babis said it was a bad thing that the dispute over his alleged collaboration with the StB was returning to the beginning.

Babis said he was about to insist on his cause in court.

The Constitutional Court returned the case to lower instances, arguing that the Nation's Memory Institute (UPN) should not be the defendant in the disputes about the registration in the StB archives.

This is a breakthrough verdict because both the Supreme Court and lower-instance courts have repeatedly decided that in the disputes over the registration by the StB, the people in question can sue the UPN, although the institute repeatedly raised the objection that it was not the responsible body in such cases.

"What a chance. A few days before the [Czech general] election, the Slovak Constitutional Court suddenly decided to deny all its previous rulings after many years, causing total chaos and uncertainty in the Slovak judiciary," Babis wrote to CTK.

Babis said the people unrightfully registered in the StB archives, who had sued the UPN, would now have to sue the Interior Ministry.

"O.K. We will sue it and we will win the fight again because I never signed collaboration with the StB and I never collaborated with the StB," he added.

The court did not decide on it now either, Babis said.

In an interview with Novinky.cz server, he drew a link between the Slovak Constitutional Court's decision and the criminal charges he faces in the Czech Republic over a suspected 50-million-crown subsidy fraud.

"It is evident that the power of the mafia that triggered my prosecution in the case of the [controversial subsidy recipient] Stork Nest company is quite far-reaching," Babis said.

Commenting on the Slovak verdict, Czech Justice Minister Robert Pelikan (ANO) emphasised that the previous verdict was cancelled based on procedural reasons.

"That is why I see no content in the cancellation. Mistakes in the proceedings were probably made in Slovakia, therefore the proceedings will be repeated. Let's wait and see the result," Pelikan said.

Vera Jourova, a former deputy chairwoman of ANO who is now the EU commissioner in charge of justice, said Thursday's verdict does not mean that Babis was an StB agent.

"The affair is returning to new proceedings, which is a situation halfway the procedure on which I cannot comment," Jourova told journalists in Luxembourg.

She said she considers the "mafia" expression Babis used in connection with the Slovak court decision a hyperbole. "I would not use this word myself," she added.

The UPN filed the complaint after the January decision of the Slovak Supreme Court which rejected its special petition with which the UPN tried to reverse its dispute with Babis. Before, district and regional courts ruled in favour of Babis.

The UPN argued that former StB officers who testified in favour of Babis were not relieved of their obligation of secrecy before giving their testimony.

According to the latest polls, food and media mogul Babis is all but certain to win the October 20-21 election to the Czech Chamber of Deputies.

Babis denies having ever knowingly cooperated with the StB.

It ensues from the UPN archives that in 1980, Slovak-born Babis became an StB informer and two years later, he was recruited by the StB as an agent with the code name Bures.

Former StB officer Julius Suman, who won Babis over for cooperation, according to the archive files, said in his court testimony that the information is untrue and that Babis was never recruited by the StB as its agent.

The UPN has presented 12 various files with the name of agent Bures, allegedly Babis's code name, to courts.

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