Prime Minister Andrej Babiš (YES) does not have to apologize to the Czech branch of the anti-corruption organization Transparency International (TI) for repeated statements that it is corrupt. Today, the Central Bohemian Regional Court ruled on this, but the verdict is not final and it can be assumed that the organization will appeal.
“All the disputed statements of the defendant (Babiš) were a response to the plaintiff’s (TI) criticism of his person in an open debate. It is clear from the context that this is not an accusation of corruption, bribery or other crime,” the judge said.
TI has long been dealing with the topic of Babiš’s conflict of interest. He points to the Stork’s Nest subsidy case or to property ties to the Agrofert holding. In a lawsuit to protect her reputation, she stated that Babiš was deliberately damaging her with his false statements. She demanded not only an apology, but also that the prime minister refrain from making similar statements in the future.
In the past, Babiš called the organization “an absolutely untrustworthy non-profit” or a “corrupt non-profit”, which “gave it to the European Commission”, from which it receives money. His lawyer insisted that the client’s statements were not unduly criticized. He argued in court that statements of a similar type are not unique in public. He also mentioned that the TI premiere itself was sharply criticized.
The Regional Court has already ruled that Babiš does not have to apologize, because the statements did not significantly interfere with TI’s rights. However, according to the High Court of Appeal, which remanded the case for a new hearing, the judgment at the time did not, among other things, sufficiently address the fact that the term “corrupt” evokes criminal conduct.
The prime minister’s lawyer stated that Babiš did not claim that the organization would commit a crime – he only expressed an opinion on how to finance it from ministries or from entities that TI is to control by nature. The organization has previously objected to the fact that its financial relations are transparent, contractually based and recorded in annual reports.