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The ‘Meciar amnesties’ are back. KDH wants justice

On the 15th anniversary of the suspected murder of former police officer Robert Remias, coalition party KDH has petitioned in parliament for the so-called Meciar Amnesties to be annulled.

KDH (c) The Daily

Head of the KDH party Jan Figel wants the amnesties to be annulled, saying that Remias’ death was “no tragic accident, but a cold-blooded murder” and so he is calling for the crimes to be investigated properly, finally.

Interior minister, Daniel Lipsic, also from KDH, expressed that the time had come for justice in the case in which the powers of the state are suspected of having committed serious crimes. The KDH proposal to approve a constitutional law allowing the scrapping of the amnesties is already the sixth attempt to quash the Meciar Amnesties in this seemingly never-ending story.

To push through its proposal, the KDH needs 90 votes in parliament, meaning it needs support also from the opposition bench. Head of nationalist party SNS Jan Slota declared that he is in favour of the motion, but that his party had not yet discussed it.

Leading opposition party of Robert Fico, Smer-SD, is against it, saying the amnesties are irrevocable. Fico said previously that anyone wanting to annul the amnesties should hand back their law degree as it was not possible, even though while in government with Meciar in the 2006-2010 term Fico used the possible annulling of the amnesties as leverage on Meciar.

Interior minister Daniel Lipsic said Fico should be careful about what he says because Fico himself threatened Meciar with annulling the amnesties because of the so-called High Tatra land affair. Lipsic said that in his opinion the amnesties are revocable, and that this has been done in many countries already.

In response, the HZDS party of Meciar released a statement on Thursday last week saying the proposal is political nonsense and has no foundation in a democratic legal system. The party also stated that it respected international law on the subject that recognised the principle that amnesties and pardons issued previously have always been respected in democratic states.

This highly complicated case was never properly dealt with, but if the current government manages to annul the amnesties that were granted at the time, things could get very interesting as the web of intrigue sucks in various public figures.

Case background

In 1998 Vladimir Meciar, as Prime Minister, placed himself as interim president of Slovakia and then issued a series of amnesties, which have been at the centre of dispute ever since. The amnesties essentially blocked any investigation into the 1995 kidnapping of then President Michal Kovac’s son, Michal Kovac Jr.

It was August 31 1995 when Kovac Jr. was kidnapped near Bratislava by a squad of eight men who stopped his car, beat him up, gave him electric shocks and forced a bottle of whisky into him, before taking him illegally across the border to Austria. They then abandoned him there in front of an Austrian police station.

There were strong suspicions at the time that the abduction had been carried out by members of the secret police and was related to the ongoing conflict between President Kovac and the PM at the time, Vladimir Meciar, in an effort to discredit the the president and get him to stand down. At the time Kovac Jr. had an Interpol warrant out on him in Germany for his alleged involvement in a fraud case worth EUR 2 million, and so his abductors were hoping the Austrian police would extradite him to Germany.

A few months later, however, in February 1996, Kovac Jr. was returned to Slovakia as the Prosecutor’s Office in Austria, which had previously refused the calls for extradition to Germany, expressed the opinion that it had been construed and possibly carried out by members of the executive in collaboration with the secret police.

In the meantime, in December 1995, the Prosecutor’s Office in Slovakia accused Kovac Jr. of abetting a fraud in connection with the company Technopol. He was pardoned by his father President Kovac in December 1997, which put an end to the investigation in Slovakia.

Before fleeing abroad for his own protection, former member of the secret police, Oscar Fegyveres, later claimed that the Slovak Intelligence Service (SIS) had been involved in the abduction. His colleague from the secret police,

Robert Remias, who assisted Oskar Fegyvers in communication with his relatives, was killed when his car was blown up in April 1996. Two men, Jozef Rohac and Imrich Olah, were accused of the murder, which investigators claimed was masterminded by the SIS chief at the time, Ivan Lexa.

President Kovac’s term in office ended in the spring of 1998, but because the Slovak parliament did not manage to vote in a successor, Vladimir Meciar assumed the presidential powers himself. Meciar then used these powers to halt the criminal prosecution related to the abduction in March 1998 and issued amnesties on 7 July 1998.

In the same year a new executive came into power under Mikulas Dzurinda, who tried to annul the so-called Meciar amnesties, but did not manage to do so due to a lack of parliamentary support.

In February 1999 the Constitutional Court declared amnesties as irrevocable.  The ‘Technopol affair’ was concluded in February 2000 after a court in Munich court ended the 6-year probe against Kovac Jr. with no conviction.

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