Slovak Constitutional Court rules to scrap Meciar amnesties

By bne IntelliNews June 1, 2017

The Slovak Constitutional Court ruled on May 31 to scrap the Meciar amnesties.

The ruling is the final step in the legislative process to bring closure to the traumatic period in the 1990s when Slovakia struggled to progress towards democracy and a free market economy. Parliament passed a resolution revoking the Meciar amnesties on April 5, two days after President Andrej Kiska signed off on a constitutional bill opening the way for the move.

The amnesties granted by former prime minister Vladimir Meciar were issued to cover up the biggest scandal of his premiership. The authoritarian leader granted the pardons in 1998 to 13 people suspected of involvement in the kidnapping of the son of Michal Kovac, who was president at the time and a bitter rival of Merciar.

The Slovak secret police are widely believed to have organised the kidnapping as a way to discredit the president. Suspects in the murder of Robert Remias, a key member of the ensuing investigation, were also let off by Meciar action, performed as he temporarily took on the presidency.

The court also approved the repeal of a pardon granted by Kovac to his son in 1997. Michal Kovac Jr was the subject of a German financial probe at the time of his kidnapping, which saw him dumped in Austria and then arrested. He was quickly released due to the circumstances surrounding his detainment.

The parliamentary resolution handed the Constitutional Court 60 days to performs a review. Eight out of the ten judges present at the session voted in favour, local media reported. A court spokeswoman confirmed the decision to TASR.

Prime Minister Robert Fico of the coalition leading Smer claimed at the time of the parliamentary resolution that the agreement to scrap the amnesties moves Slovak politics to a new level. The move may be a signal, he suggested, that there are issues going above the framework of the coalition-opposition fight.

Andrej Danko, head of the coalition Slovak National Party, said that a historical event is happening in Slovakia which will help the country cope with the difficult period of the 1990s. "None of us caused it, it was a huge trauma; however, good politicians unite people rather than dividing them, and they seek compromises," he said.

The constitutional amendment was strongly supported by opposition parties, even though it didn't include several of their demands. However, the neo-Nazi People's Party Our Slovakia (LSNS) refused to support the effort, calling it “a disgusting and dirty game” aimed at distracting public attention.

The rule of the authoritarian Meciar is viewed as a time during which Slovakia went backwards in its drive towards democracy and economic development. The unpunished kidnapping of Michal Kovac Jr is still felt to be an open wound in the country’s history.

Meciar extended the amnesties – a presidential prerogative – when he temporarily assumed the presidential powers after Kovac left the post. Many senior officials throughout the years have insisted that rolling back the amnesties, one of them granted to Meciar's secret service chief Ivan Lexa, was not possible under the constitution. 

 

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