Czech Court To Issue Tickets For Trial of Ex-PM Babis
116 seats will be available for interested citizens. Photo Credit: vlada.cz
Prague, Sept 7 (CTK) – The public will be able to buy tickets to attend the trial of ex-PM Andrej Babis and his former aide Jana Nagyova in the Prague Municipal Court, court spokesman Adam Wenig told CTK today. Babis and Nagyova are accused of subsidy fraud related to the Capi hnizdo (Stork Nest) case.
The court will issue entrance tickets outside the courtroom every day. The capacity is 80 seats, and the court can open a balcony with another 36 seats in the case of higher demand, added Wenig.
The court panel headed by judge Jan Sott will start court proceedings on Monday 12 September in the largest courtroom at the Municipal Court, and the trial is scheduled to continue until next Friday.
Babis and Nagyova have been charged with subsidy fraud and harming EU financial interests. If convicted, they face up to ten years in prison under the Penal Code, but the prosecutor has proposed a suspended sentence and a fine.
Both suspects have previously denied the charges.
“Within the measures to prevent the courtroom from being overcrowded, access will be regulated by issuing tickets. They will be issued outside room #101 every day of the proceedings until the capacity is filled,” Wenig said, adding that the tickets will be checked by judicial guards.
Wenig added that the court would reserve 24 seats for the media in the first row and part of the second row in the courtroom. Journalists must register by Thursday, and each media outlet will be entitled to one ticket only.
“If more people from the same editorial board were interested in attending the trial, they could seek the general tickets for the public. People should come sufficiently in advance as there are a limited number of tickets and those who come first will be first served,” he noted.
The court will allow recordings and photographs only before the start of the trial.
The core of the Capi hnizdo case relates to the Farma Capi hnizdo company, formerly known as ZZN Agro Pelhrimov, which was originally part of Agrofert, Babis’s giant chemical, agricultural and food holding. In December 2007, Capi hnizdo became a joint stock company with bearer shares. In the summer of 2008, it received a CZK 50 million subsidy within a program for small- and medium-sized businesses it would never have been eligible to as part of Agrofert. After a couple of years of meeting the subsidy conditions, Capi hnizdo returned to Agrofert.
Capi hnizdo is now owned by the Imoba firm, part of the Agrofert holding. The firm returned the disputed subsidy to the state in 2018. Agrofert is now a part of two trust funds where Babis, then finance minister, placed it in early 2017 in order to comply with the amended conflict of interest law.