The Constitutional Court has overturned an appeal by former president Michal Kovac concerning accusations against former head of the secret service SIS Ivan Lexa in the kidnapping of the president’s son. What is worse for the former president, he is supposed to publicly apologise to Lexa and pay compensation of just over EUR 3,300.
The verdict, acknowledging the earlier ruling of the Regional Court in Bratislava, says Kovac had no right to express the accusations no matter if Lexa was guilty or not. The ruling has not only enraged a large part of the Slovak public, as the now infamous case has a reputation as being one of the dirtiest cover-ups to be seen in Slovakia, but has also led to an outcry from the Freedom and Solidarity party (SaS).
Party head Richard Sulik pointed to how certain fundamental principles of democracy were under attack, underlining three recent cases. Sulik said all three cases showed the same signs of ignoring the public’s right to the truth and suppressing the right to freedom of expression, while offering special protection to certain people. The other two cases are the recent one involving supreme court head Stefan Harabin (suing EUR 187,000 from the Attorney General) and the EUR 30,000 claim of judge Helena Kozikova against documentary filmmaker Zuzana Piussi who had allegedly not received the judge’s consent to make a secret recording. The reporter could go to jail over the issue.
The kidnapping of Michal Kovac junior led to the issue of amnesties by acting president Vladimir Mečiar, who was also blamed for having engaged the Slovak secret service (SIS) in the abduction of the President’s son Michal Kováč, Jr. — wanted on a warrant for a financial crime in Germany — to Hainburg, Austria, in August 1995, but neither his nor anyone else’s guilt has ever been proven. Several attempts have been made to annul the amnesties, most recently in February of this year, but all were unsuccessful as none got the necessary backing of 90 of the 150 MPs in parliament.
In 2000, Ivan Lexa fled Slovakia and became an international fugitive and the target of an intense search by Interpol, eventually being captured in 2002 in South Africa and extradited back to Slovakia. The Slovak courts have never found Lexa guilty of any wrongdoing, however, and in two cases he is still covered by the Meciar amnesties (Wikipedia).