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Andrej Babiš: Former Czech prime minister to face trial on fraud charges

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By Euronews  with AP, AFP
Andrej Babis' centrist ANO (YES) movement lost last year's parliamentary elections.
Andrej Babis' centrist ANO (YES) movement lost last year's parliamentary elections.   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Petr David Josek, File

Former Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš will face trial after being charged in a fraud case involving European Union subsidies.

The Czech parliament had previously voted to lift Babiš's immunity, prompting Prague’s public prosecution office to indict the populist billionaire

Babiš is accused of fraudulently using €2 million in EU money -- intended for small and medium-sized companies -- to fund one of his own businesses. Czech police have long called for Babiš to be charged.

The former PM has always denied the allegations and says the allegations are "politically motivated" and "absurd".

“I’ve never done anything illegal, in the past or in politics,” Babis said on Monday. “I’ll prove it at the court.”

Prosecutors said that Prague’s Municipal Court will now take over the case. Another suspect was also charged in the fraud case, according to a statement.

A spokesperson for the Prague prosecutor's office added that one of the suspects had "committed the crime of subsidy fraud and harming the financial interests of the European Union". The other suspect was an accomplice.

The allegations involve Stork's Nest farm, which was transferred to Babiš' family from a food industry conglomerate he owned, made up of around 250 companies.

Later, the conglomerate Agrofert again took ownership of the farm, only after it had received EU subsidies.

Czech lawmakers have twice before lifted Babiš’ immunity from prosecution in the case, which dates back to 2007.

Babiš led the Czech government for just one term in office between 2017 and 2021, before losing last year's parliamentary election.

The 67-year-old could still stand in the country's next presidential elections, scheduled for January 2023.