Prague: Former Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis stood trial here over his alleged involvement in the European Union (EU) subsidy fraud.
At issue in the case is whether Babis and his former advisor Jana Nagyova unlawfully received about 50 million Czech crowns ($2 million) in EU subsidies over a decade ago to build a conference centre, known as the Stork’s Nest, near Prague, reports Xinhua news agency.
During the hearing in Prague’s Municipal Court, Babis denied any wrongdoing and said that the money in question was returned to the EU.
He further explained that the criminal proceedings arose after he entered politics, arguing that the allegations against him were “politically motivated”.
The trial that began on Monday follows a long-standing criminal investigation in which the defendants are accused of receiving EU funds earmarked for small and medium-sized businesses.
Local media reported that prosecutors had asked for suspended sentences and fines for Babis and Nagyova.
Babis is still a sitting parliamentarian.
His party, the populist ANO (Action of Dissatisfied Citizens), holds a majority in the Chamber of Deputies (lower house of Parliament).
Babis is widely expected to formally announce his candidacy for president in 2023.
Certain polls suggest that he would be a strong contender.