Illustration photo – Czech senator Lukáš Wagenknecht
Prague – The chairman of the ANO movement Andrej Babiš must apologize to the pirate senator Lukáš Wagenknecht for saying that he is a whistleblower and also a person which deprived the Czech Republic of 800 million crowns. On the other hand, he does not have to apologize for calling Wagenknecht a “psychopath”. Today, the Regional Court in Prague made a final decision on this.
The regional court ruled in the dispute for the second time. Last year in December, he annulled the judgment of the Prague-Západ District Court, which imposed an obligation on Babiš to apologize. At the time, he stated that Wagenknecht did not specify in the lawsuit when exactly Babiš made the statements.
Last April, the district court again decided that Babiš should apologize for 13 statements, but today the appeals panel confirmed Wagenknecht's right to an apology only for some of them. According to the president of the senate, Hana Lojkásková, the label “psychopath” is a permissible assessment.
“From the context of the articles and the evidence that was conducted, this term was used to indicate the activities of Mr. Plaintiff, who really disproportionately files various complaints, filings, lawsuits, criminal reports, and that not everyone may find this behavior normal,” she stated judge. According to her, a number of such submissions are subsequently evaluated as unfounded or meaningless.
On the other hand, according to Lojkásková, the term “whistleblower” is out of line, and she also apologized to Wagenknecht for saying that he “deprived the Czech Republic of 800 million crowns”. “That wording looks as if the plaintiff stole or otherwise misappropriated the 800 million, however, if the defendant attributes to him responsibility for the fact that the Czech Republic did not receive a subsidy, he could have chosen a more subtle wording,” the judge explained, stating that direct responsibility in the proceedings was not proven she wasn't.
Lojkásková also rejected the lawsuit in the part that related to the statements made in the Chamber of Deputies or in Babiš's comments on the social network. According to her, it was not a statement addressed to the public, in the first case the element of the public was, according to the judge, “significantly limited”, Babiš also spoke to a limited circle of people on the social network.
“I am glad that at least in those two statements it was confirmed that it is not permissible for politicians to communicate in this way,” Wagenknecht told reporters after the meeting. According to him, it could be a lesson for the future so that similar things are not resolved at the political level. Babiš's legal representative Jiří Urbanek did not want to comment on the verdict.
Wagenknecht was the first deputy minister of finance from February 2014 to June 2015, when Babiš dismissed him, according to the senator, without giving a reason. In the past, Wagenknecht gave interviews in which he spoke of Babiš's Sparrow's Nest case as a subsidy fraud. As a senator, Wagenknecht is involved in the matter of the conflict of interests of Babiš, who put his assets, including the Agrofert concern, into trust funds. Both the former prime minister and Agrofert deny a conflict of interest.
In 2019, before the European Commission published the results of an audit regarding Babiš and subsidies to Agrofert, Wagenknecht asked the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and the Council of Europe for preliminary assurances as to whether the financing of Agrofert cannot influence the equality of chances in the European elections. In response, Babiš said, among other things, that he knows the senator “as a psychopath who is part of the mafia that wants to eliminate me in politics”.