Slovak press criticizes Babiš court decision

Scathing editorial in daily ‘Sme’ blasts country’s judiciary for verdict in case of Czech finance minister

Bratislava, June 27 (ČTK) — The Slovak daily Sme today criticized the judge of a Bratislava court for her verdict that Slovak-born Czech Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Andrej Babiš was unfairly registered as an agent of the communist secret police (StB).

The verdict confirms the disastrous state and untrustworthiness of the Slovak judiciary, Sme writes.

“Out of the submitted evidence in favor of and against Babiš, [the judge] was interested only in the former, and she basically ignored the rest,” the paper says in a commentary on the Thursday verdict of a Bratislava district court.

The other party in dispute, the Slovak Nation’s Memory Institute (ÚPN), which Babiš has sued, is to appeal the verdict.

In her justification of the verdict, the judge said it was not proved during the proceedings that Babiš had wittingly collaborated with the StB.

Mainly former StB officer Julius Šuman testified in favor of Babiš. Šuman dismissed the information from the archive documents about the StB having recruited Babiš as its agent in the 1980s.

There is no written document in which Babiš would pledge to collaborate with StB, the court concluded.

“It is unacceptable that StB officers’ testimonies be decisive in the question of the registration or not registration [in StB files]. Members of the political police of the authoritarian regime cannot be trustworthy sources to clear up their own work. The fact that only the Slovak judiciary trusts them does not say anything about Babiš but rather about the state of affairs,” the daily writes.

It notes the testimonies and expert opinions of historians who have been professionally studying the StB archives and functioning confirmed the genuine character of the Babiš files. They thereby also proved that former StB officers did not tell the truth about the Babiš case, Sme adds.

“However, the judge simply ignored the essential expert stances,” Sme writes, adding that the verdict in favor of Babiš is not surprising.

The paper points out that the result of the court proceedings will not be of much importance for Babiš in practice.

“He cannot receive a negative lustration certificate in the Czech Republic if the law is observed. And those who have trusted him so far are not interested at all to know whether he really was an agent or not,” Sme writes.

A negative lustration certificate proving that the person did not collaborate with StB is required for government members and other senior officials on the basis of the lustration law from 1991 that bans StB collaborators and former top communist functionaries from high political and economic posts.

Other Slovak national dailies also reported on the Babiš case today, but unlike Sme they did not comment on the verdict.

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