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02-09-2019

Prosecutor halts investigation into Babiš over alleged EU subsidy abuse

State prosecutor Jaroslav Šaroch has halted an investigation into Prime Minister Andrej Babiš and members of his family over the alleged abuse of European Union subsidies in connection with the Stork’s Nest hotel and conference centre near Prague, the newspaper Deník N reported on Monday, citing two people close to the case.

The daily said that Mr. Šaroch, who was due to conclude the matter by the end of August, had informed his superiors of the decision on Friday. It must still be approved by the leadership of the Prague municipal state attorney’s office.

Mr. Šaroch’s superiors must now go through the entire case file, which contains over 20,000 pages, Deník N said.

Mr. Babiš has been facing charges of abusing CZK 50 million in EU grants since October 2017 but has always denied any wrongdoing. His wife, daughter, brother-in-law and two other associates have also been under investigation.

The PM said on Sunday that he believed the investigation would be dropped. He said he would remain in government even if the prosecutor had acted on police advice and filed criminal charges against him.

Union of State Attorneys says halted investigation in PM’s case must be thoroughly justified

State attorney Jaroslav Šaroch who has halted an investigation into Prime Minister Andrej Babiš and members of his family over suspected EU subsidy fraud after dealing with the case for four years should explain the circumstances that led him to make that decision, the Union of State Attorneys said on its Facebook page soon after the news broke on Monday.

The union said that since the state attorney had back-tracked on his original legal opinion on the case, he should provide a thorough justification for his decision.

Supreme State Attorney Pavel Zeman, who has a right to invalidate the decision, has not yet commented on the development.

Opposition parties waiting for justification of decision not to prosecute PM

Opposition politicians have said they respect the decision of the state attorney who halted an investigation into the so-called Stork’s Nest Affair involving the Czech prime minister, but are waiting for more information and a thorough justification of that decision.

TOP 09 leader and former justice minister, Jiří Pospíšil, stressed the importance of an open and thorough justification of the decision for future public trust in the judiciary.

The head of the Christian Democrats, Marek Výborný, noted that while the state attorney’s decision may be acceptable from a legal perspective, it was not so from an ethical one.

And the leader of the Civic Democrats Petr Fiala said that in view of the circumstances and the change-of-guard at the justice ministry just hours after the police proposed the prime minister’s prosecution there would always be doubts in people’s minds regarding the prime minister’s proclaimed innocence.

Schools reopen, welcoming over 100,000 first-graders

Schools around the country reopened for the new school year on Monday, welcoming over 100,000 first graders.

Traditionally, President Miloš Zeman and a number of ministers attended the ceremony to wish the first-graders well. President Zeman attended the first day of school at a primary school in Třinec, in the Frydek-Mistek region, which has 700 pupils and welcomed 50 first-graders.

In a short address to the children, President Zeman spoke about the importance of curiosity in learning, saying that curiosity would lead them forward since it was behind the world’s greatest inventions and discoveries.

Prime Minister Andrej Babiš and Finance Minister Alena Schillerová attended the welcoming of first -graders in a school in Rudná, near Prague, while Education Minister Robert Plaga led his own daughter to first- grade at an elementary school in Brno.

Journalists’ premiere of The Painted Bird at Venice film festival

The Painted Bird, Vaclav Marhoul’s adaptation of the 1965 novel by Polish-born writer Jerzy Kosiński, a controversial novel set in WWII about a boy subject to physical, emotional and sexual abuse by ignorant and superstitious peasants, will have its journalists’ premiere at the International Film Festival in Venice on Monday night.

The film is competing for a Golden Lion Award, the first Czech movie to do so in a quarter of a century.

Its first public screening is scheduled for Tuesday, September 3.

Plíšková exits US Open in fourth round

Karolína Plíšková has been knocked out in the fourth round of the US Open in New York. The Czech third seed, who was wearing a bandage on her left thigh, lost 7-6 3-6 5-7 to the UK’s Johanna Konta in a dramatic match lasting almost two and a half hours.

Plíšková’s exit at Flushing Meadows means she will not become world number after the final Grand Slam tournament of the season. She would have been the top-ranked player if she had reached the semi-finals.

Weather forecast

Tuesday should be clear to partly cloudy with scattered showers and day temperatures between 19 and 23 degrees Celsius.

02-09-2019