Second day of Stork’s Nest trial continues

The trial of ex-prime minister Andrej Babiš, who is facing charges of fraud in connection with the Stork’s Nest conference centre near Prague, had its second day of hearings on Tuesday.

The trial began with Judge Jan Šott reading several witness statements. According to the Czech News Agency, Mr. Babiš left the morning hearing satisfied because, he said, the witness statements showed that the accusation against him is false.

In the afternoon the court heard testimony from a handwriting expert who stated that a signature on the deed for the acquisition of shares in the Stork's Nest company, allegedly from Mr Babiš's son, is probably not genuine. He also said that he found similarities to Mr Babiš's handwriting, but a categorical conclusion cannot be reached until more examples of Babiš junior's handwriting are made available. This material is difficult to find because Babiš's son is not a Czech citizen and lives in Switzerland, he said.

Mr. Babiš and his former advisor Jana Nagyová are accused of falsely creating the impression that the Stork’s Nest company, which was connected to Babiš’s conglomerate Agrofert, met grant conditions as a small or medium-sized business, in order to fraudulently acquire around CZK 50 million in EU subsidies to build the conference centre.

The trial follows a seven-year investigation. Both defendants face five to ten years in prison.

Author: Anna Fodor