Abduction of Kovac Jr.: government wants to annul Meciar amnesties

Yesterday marked the 15th anniversary of the abduction of former President Kovac’s son, Michal Kovac Jr, and with the new government there is rising pressure to get to the bottom of what happened and get some justice into the thwarted investigation.

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, a 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.

It is a strange and complicated case that 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. This is highly unlikely, however, as Robert Fico has expressed that he does not agree with cancelling the amnesties, and a certain level of support would be required from the opposition to pass the act.

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