Prosecutor Sends Stork Nest Case To Police For Further Investigation

Andrej Babis and MIlos Zeman at Capi Hnzido

The supervising public prosecutor Jaroslav Šaroch today returned the case of a 50 million subsidy for the construction of the Stork’s Nest farm to the police to continue the investigation. This was stated by Aleš Cimbala, spokesman for the Prague City Public Prosecutor’s Office. According to him, the reason is new information that appeared after the police closed the investigation at the end of May. Prime Minister Andrej Babiš (YES) and his former adviser Jana Nagyová (formerly Mayerová) are being prosecuted in the case, both of whom deny guilt.

According to Cimbala, the investigation should be supplemented mainly by questioning witnesses. Šaroch set the deadline for securing evidence until 17 September.

“Even during the processing of the case, the public prosecutor evaluated all new findings arising both from the submission of the defense and from the information that appeared in the public media, and concluded that some information may be relevant for further proceedings in the case and is they need to be addressed more closely, “Cimbala said.

Server Message List in July, he informed about a former manager and a member of the broader management of the Čapí hnízdo farm, who, according to the website, reported to the plaintiffs, saying that he had not told the investigators the full truth during the 2017 and 2018 interrogations and wanted to supplement his statement. Last week, then, the Message List among other things, stated that the Prime Minister’s son Andrej Babiš Jr. would like to testify in the Stork’s Nest case. Police are due to hear this in September in connection with his alleged introduction to Crimea. According to the media, the defendants’ lawyers also suggested further evidence during and after the investigation.

The police completed the investigation into the case of the subsidy for the Stork’s Nest farm at the end of May and proposed to charge Babiš and Nagy. According to the instructions of the Prague High Public Prosecutor’s Office, which supervises the matter, Šaroch had to decide on the proposal to this day. The Prague Attorney General Lenka Bradáčová subsequently stated in mid-August that, in her opinion, it would probably not be possible to meet the deadline, partly due to new facts in the case. The investigation into the case will now continue.

According to Eva Kropáčová, a spokeswoman for the Prague police, the file will return to the same economic crime department that used to work on the case. However, the main investigator of the case, Pavel Nevtípil, left the police at the end of May. “The same forensic scientists who have worked on it in the past will continue to work on the case. The change of investigator has no effect on further work,” said Kropáčová.

The Čapí hnízdo farm originally belonged to Babiš’s holding Agrofert. In December 2007, it was transformed into a joint-stock company with bearer shares and later received a European grant in the SME program, to which it would not be entitled as part of Agrofert. The shares were owned by Babiš’s children and partner. The company returned to Agrofert after a few years. In 2017, Babiš holding invested in its trust funds.

The Prime Minister has long claimed that the case is purposeful and artificially constructed. Nagy said in the past that she was convinced that the law had not been broken. Investigators accuse both accused of damaging the financial interests of the European Union and of subsidy fraud.

In the summer, both Babiš and Nagyová submitted a proposal to stop their prosecution. According to Cimbala, Sharoch dealt with all the new information coming from both the defendants’ submissions and information from other sources by returning the case to the police. “Any arguments should be taken into account by the police authority when resubmitting the case or the objections of the defense will be dealt with by the supervisory public prosecutor during the actual processing of the case when it is submitted to him,” Cimbala said.

Originally, the police accused more people in the case, including members of Babiš’s family and the then ANO vice-chairman Jaroslav Faltýnek. The prosecution of Faltýnka and three other people were canceled by Šaroch in May 2018. The year before, he stopped prosecuting all the remaining accused, including Babiš, although the police, as in May this year, proposed filing charges.

Former Attorney General Pavel Zeman resumed the prosecution of Babiš and Nagy in December 2019 after a review, according to which the proceedings in their case were stopped illegally and prematurely. At the same time, he confirmed that the persecution of Babiš’s loved ones was definitely over. Zeman announced his resignation in mid-May this year, his term expired on June 30. The Supreme Public Prosecutor’s Office is now headed by Zeman’s former First Deputy Igor Stříž.