Slovak ex-PM narrowly stays out of jail in corruption fiasco


In a significant blow to the anti-corruption rhetoric of the Slovak ruling coalition, the parliament in Bratislava has rejected a request for the arrest of ex-prime minister Robert Fico.

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Fico faces costs of abusing his powers, below a scheme the prosecutor described as a “legal group” working in the course of the earlier authorities.

“Justice has misplaced a battle,” Igor Matovič, chief of the principle authorities OLaNO celebration commented after the vote on late Wednesday (4 Could). “It’s one in every of many we are going to nonetheless must battle on this struggle,” he mentioned.

“It was clearly a political course of,” Fico informed journalists and thanked deputies for stopping the transfer. Whereas all opposition MPs voted towards, all members of the coalition Sme Rodina celebration of the parliament chairman Boris Kollár and two OLaNO MPs abstained.

Consequently, two votes had been lacking for the meeting to present a inexperienced mild for Fico’s arrest. The choice means Fico’s legal prosecution continues and not using a judicial verdict on his custody.

In the identical legal case, the courtroom had dominated that Robert Kalinak, ex-minister of the inside within the governments headed by Fico between 2006 and 2018 be stored in custody — as he’s now not a deputy, the parliament’s permission was not required.

The fees towards the 2 main figures of the social democrat celebration (SMER-SD) come after a collection of corruption and abuse-of-power instances involving top-level state officers, comparable to the previous legal professional common, and ex-chiefs of police and tax administration.

In keeping with prosecutors, Fico and Kalinak used confidential tax data offered by members of that unlawful scheme to publicly assault their political opponents, particularly former president Andrej Kiska and the then opposition politician and present finance minister Matovič.

For his half, Fico has argued that it was all simply politics.

“In the event that they no less than fabricated corruption costs, however to accuse me of establishing a legal group by appointing loyal folks to workplace would counsel that any authorities chief may very well be regarded the pinnacle of organised crime,” he says.

However NGOs following the investigation of instances — like bribes collected in return for closing legal prosecutions, or corruption schemes designed for distributing public cash, together with EU agriculture subsidies — view Fico’s claims as a part of his authorized defence.

“State seize would undoubtedly be not possible with out the help of political leaders,” Zuzana Petkova, of the Stop Corruption Foundation in Slovakia informed EUobserver.

“And there are testimonies of state seize by officers from police, monetary and public administration who’ve confessed corruption and, in some instances, have been sentenced. So, I disagree that that is merely a political course of,” she added.

A number of suspects have already come below scrutiny because of the investigative reporting of the murdered journalist Ján Kuciak, and far of the opposite revelations adopted, as a part of the investigation of his homicide in 2018.

Fico fights again

Earlier than the Slovak parliament’s determination, Fico tried to persuade European politicians and establishments of his case.

Reacting to his letter, Věra Jourová, EU justice commissioner, informed Czech TV that the EU govt can not intervene with legal investigations. However she criticised as “insulting beneath the dignity” Fico’s feedback on present president Zuzana Čaputová, whom he had known as “an American missus.”

Fico fired again that Jourová had did not act on “the whole destruction of justice in Slovakia, though it’s a part of her job description for which she will get a €20,000-a-month wage.”

Within the reverse initiative, eight Slovak MEPs referred to as on the S&D group to kick out Fico’s Smer-SD celebration, saying the celebration now not represents their values.

They highlighted vulgar insults towards Čaputová by its supporters at a 1 Could gathering, incited by celebration vice-chairman Ľuboš Blaha.

Monika Beňová, MEP and quaestor of the European Parliament, later apologised on social media for the incident, and mentioned she had not heard the insults whereas standing on the stage.

“Sadly, the rhetoric of Robert Fico and different main members of SMER-SD more and more resembles that of the extremists. Via these actions, they’ve taken their celebration to the fringes of the European political spectrum,” Miriam Lexmann, MEP within the centre-right European Folks’s Get together (EPP) informed EUobserver.

Deja vu in courting extremists

For her half, Beňová rebuked makes an attempt by different Slovak MEPs to assault the Smer-SD celebration in Brussels.

“We have now pushed ahead on the long-term foundation all of the subjects that are related to social democracy,” she was quoted as saying by the TASR company.

Nonetheless, many in Slovakia would disagree, hinting on the celebration leaders’s earlier stance on human rights, migration, or different solidarity-related points.

Again in 2006, the S&D suspended the membership of Smer-SD for his or her coalition with the far-right Slovak Nationwide Get together.

However based mostly on the celebration’s present anti-American and anti-Nato rhetoric, analysts predict Smer-SD may very well be tempted to hitch forces with the extremists once more.

Dominika Hajdu, the pinnacle of Bratislava-based Globsec Centre for Democracy & Resilience identified that “most opposition events in Slovakia presently exploit the pure fears of struggle,” among the many inhabitants and their worries over its influence on the vitality and meals costs.

She argues that the so-called “bread points” might turn out to be the principle supply of criticism of the federal government’s selections on Ukrainian refugees and sanctions towards Russia, and that may very well be in the end directed towards the EU’s collective motion on these points.


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