PRAGUE (AP) — A Prague court on Monday acquitted former Prime Minister Andrej Babis of fraud charges in a $2 million case involving European Union subsidies.

A prosecutor requested a three-year suspended sentence and a fine of 10 million Czech koruna ($440,000) for the populist billionaire. The prosecution still can appeal.

Babis pleaded not guilty and repeatedly said the charges against him were politically motivated.

He wasn’t present at Prague’s Municipal Court on Monday. His former associate, Jana Nagyova, who signed the subsidy request, was also acquitted.

The ruling is a boost for Babis just days before the first round of the Czech presidential election.

Babis is considered a front-runner in Friday’s election, along with retired army Gen. Petr Pavel, former chairman of NATO’s military committee, and former university rector Danuse Nerudova.

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