Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Firm not to get compensation from state for Babiš's words

ČTK |
10 November 2017

Prague, Nov 9 (CTK) - The Imex Group firm is not entitled to a 15-million-crown compensation from the Czech state for the statements by Andrej Babis (ANO) when he was finance minister after the explosions of two ammunition dumps that Imex leased in 2014, the appeals Prague Municipal Court ruled on Thursday.

The verdict has taken effect.

The appeals court upheld the previous verdict by a district court and turned down the firm's lawsuit as unsubstantiated.

The firm based in Ostrava, north Moravia, sued the defence and interior ministries for not having prevented a leak of confidential information from the investigation, which Babis distorted and released then, Imex says.

The firm claims that this has seriously harmed its reputation.

The defence and interior ministries' representatives welcomed the verdict on Thursday.

The two ammunition dumps, leased by Imex, exploded in a compound in Vrbetice, south Moravia, on October 16 and December 3, 2014.

The first blast of 50 tonnes of infantry and artillery ammunition, anti-tank weapons and air bombs killed two Imex Group employees. In the other blast, some 13 tonnes of ammunition went up.

After the other explosion, Babis said in a political debate on public Czech Television (CT) that Imex Group was very controversial. The firm exported ammunition to Bulgaria, where it also exploded, and to Congo on which an arms embargo was imposed, Babis said.

Imex immediately denied this and said Babis was lying. It filed a legal complaint with the police and then a lawsuit, demanding a 15-million-crown compensation from the state.

According to the district court's judge, the lawsuit was filed prematurely as the court would basically substitute for the law enforcement bodies in this phase. The court ruled that the firm must first wait for the police to decide on its complaint before taking further steps.

Imex's effort to get access to information from the police files might be behind the lawsuit, the judge said.

The firm's representative Lukas Matuska rejected the court's interpretation again on Thursday.

The police are investigating the Vrbetice explosions on suspicion of a deliberate endangering of public safety.

The ammunition stored in the other dumps in the complex was transported elsewhere.

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