Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Court rejects Babiš's lawsuit against his StB registration

ČTK |
14 February 2018

Bratislava, Feb 13 (CTK) - The Regional Court in Bratislava has dismissed the lawsuit in which Czech PM Andrej Babis challenged as unrightful his registration as a former Czechoslovak communist secret police (StB) agent in StB files, the court spokesman Pavol Adamciak told CTK on Tuesday.

The regional court dealt with the case again after the Slovak Constitutional Court (US) last year cancelled the definitive verdicts of the regional and the supreme courts, which previously ruled in favour of Babis in his dispute with the Slovak Nation's Memory Institute (UPN), which is in charge of the StB archives.

Adamciak said the Regional Court made the decision on January 30. In accordance with the US decision, the Regional Court said in its verdict that the UPN should not have been the respondent party in the dispute.

The verdict will take effect after being delivered to both sides in dispute, which are Babis and the UPN. No remedy measure can be taken to challenge it.

The UPN welcomes the court verdict saying, in accordance with the previous US decision, that the UPN was not a body entitled to be sued, UPN spokesman Jergus Sivos said.

He said it was not the UPN who infringed upon Babis's personality rights in a situation where a law binds the UPN to release StB archive documents.

Lawyer Pavol Polacek, whose office represented the UPN in the dispute, said the latest court verdict means that Babis, a native of Bratislava, has failed to clean his name.

"At present, no decision exists that Andrej Babis was registered as an StB agent unrightfully. If he wanted to further deal with the issue, he may sue someone else. The US did not say whom. He [Babis] would have to analyse this first," Polacek told CTK.

Babis, 63, a Slovak-born billionaire, entered politics in the Czech Republic in the early 2010s. His ANO movement was part of the Czech government from 2014 and smoothly won last October's general election. Babis's single-party minority government lost a confidence vote in parliament in January and has been ruling in resignation since. President Milos Zeman has assigned Babis to launch new government-forming talks.

The dismissal of Babis's lawsuit in the new court proceedings was no surprise, since the Bratislava Regional Court judges were bound by the previous US decision.

The US also stated last year that in the Babis case, Slovak courts wrongly based their verdicts on the testimony of former StB officers who had not been relieved of their duty of confidentiality, however.

Furthermore, the US challenged the trustworthiness of these witnesses who testified in favour of Babis and whose testimonies were crucial in the original court proceedings.

"The appeals court states, in the sense of the Constitutional Court's statement, that the party, which is the respondent in the dispute, did not infringe upon the personal rights of the complainant,... which is why the lowest-level [district] court should have dismissed the lawsuit due to the sued party's lacking entitlement to be sued," Adamciak said, adding that this is why the Regional Court has now changed the district court's original verdict by dismissing Babis's lawsuit.

Slovak lawyers previously said the US decision was a breakthrough that will influence other similar cases.

The US did not say, however, which institution in Slovakia should be sued by the people who complain of their names unrightfully figuring in StB files.

According to some lawyers, the respondent party should be the Interior Ministry. Interior Minister Robert Kalinak rejected this last year, saying that his office does not have the StB archives at its disposal.

Babis dismisses having ever knowingly cooperated with the StB.

According to archive documents, he became a StB confidant in 1980 and two years later, he was won over for cooperation with the StB as an agent, codenamed Bures, by StB officer Julius Suman. The latter, however, said in the original court proceedings that this information was untrue and that the StB never recruited Babis.

Copyright 2015 by the Czech News Agency (ČTK). All rights reserved.
Copying, dissemination or other publication of this article or parts thereof without the prior written consent of ČTK is expressly forbidden. The Prague Daily Monitor is not responsible for its content.