Friday, 17 August 2018

Czech politicians: Court decision in Babiš-StB case no surprise

ČTK |
14 February 2018

Prague, Feb 13 (CTK) - Czech opposition politicians are not surprised at courts definitively dismissing a lawsuit Czech PM Andrej Babis had filed against figuring as a former communist secret police (StB) agent in the StB files, but say it will not affect his position or the formation of a new cabinet.

Earlier on Tuesday, the Bratislava Regional Court informed the media about its dismissal of the lawsuit filed by Babis, a Slovak-born billionaire, who complained about having been registered as an agent unrightfully.

Czech opposition TOP 09 chairman Jiri Pospisil said this is another reason why Babis, whose minority government is ruling in resignation, should not become prime minister again, as planned by his ANO movement and President Milos Zeman.

Mayors and Independents (STAN) chairman Petr Gazdik emphasised that the court verdict is definitive.

Social Democrat (CSSD) deputy chairman Jan Hamacek said he expected the court decision, since the Slovak Constitutional Court (US) made the same decision before.

Hamacek said the affair might influence the CSSD's election congress due on February 18, which is to discuss chances of government cooperation between the CSSD and Babis's election-winning ANO movement.

"This means a complication. I cannot rule out that it may influence the decision by the delegates to the congress on whether to launch negotiations with ANO in the current situation," Hamacek told journalists.

Pirates chairman Ivan Bartos said the court decision will not change the Czech political scene.

"It changes nothing for Mr Babis's critics, and it probably changes nothing for Mr Babis's aides either, which may be even sadder," Bartos said.

"I have never noticed Mr Babis ever drawing any personal consequences," Bartos said when asked whether he expects any change from Babis himself. He said the Pirates stick to their previous decision not to support a cabinet of Babis.

Pospisil mentioned the prosecution Babis faces over a suspected EU subsidy fraud linked to the Capi hnizdo (Stork Nest) company.

In addition, "he was obviously an StB agent and such a man should not head the cabinet now, almost 30 years after the Velvet Revolution," Pospisil said.

The court verdict would not influence the ongoing post-election talks, since ANO's coalition partners, who are the far-right Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD) and the Communists (KSCM), will not mind it, Pospisil said, ironically hinting at ANO often voting together with the two extreme parties.

Gazdik said he does not expect ANO to distance itself from its chairman Babis in reaction to the court verdict.

"It definitely will not do what is usual in democracy, where there should not be a prosecuted prime minister, nor should he have cooperated with the StB," Gazdik said.

Both Gazdik and Pospisil said the verdict will not influence Zeman's plan to give a second government-forming attempt to Babis, since the power pact between the two continues.

Civic Democrat (ODS) lawmaker Marek Benda told journalists that the court verdict could be expected.

"It means what we knew the whole time, that Mr Babis was an StB agent," Benda said, repeating the ODS's determination not to ally with Babis.

Christian Democrat (KDU-CSL) chairman Pavel Belobradek said it is a bad piece of news for the Czech Republic to have such a prime minister.

"Babis himself must consider whether to stick to the post of prime minister and whether this is tenable for our country," Belobradek told CTK.

According to KDU-CSL deputy head Marian Jurecka, the court decision that Babis was registered as an StB agent rightfully, harms the Czech Republic's reputation abroad.

SPD chairman Tomio Okamura said no government can be established without ANO's 78 lawmakers.

"Without them, no one is capable of pushing through their programmes. We negotiate about a programme with ANO, we want to push through our programme, which is what we concentrate on," Okamura said.

KSCM deputy chairman Jiri Dolejs said the court verdict must be respected.

"It is necessary to admit that Mr Babis's trustworthiness as prime minister is a problem, but for us, the main thing is to respect the election result and also the president's choice of a new prime minister-designated," Dolejs said.

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