The Slovak parliament passed a constitutional amendment on March 30 that will allow it to annul amnesties that former prime minister Vladimir Meciar issued to cover up the biggest scandal of his premiership.
The Slovak government said on March 15 that it had finally found a way to scrap the amnesties issued by Meciar in 1998 to 13 people suspected of involvement in the kidnapping of the son of Michal Kovac, who was president at the time. The Slovak secret police are widely believed to have organised the kidnapping as a way to discredit the president, who was in conflict with Meciar at the time. Suspects in the murder of Robert Remias, a key member of the ensuing investigation, were also let off by Meciar’s action, performed as he temporarily took on the presidency.
The amendment, sponsored by the Smer-led coalition government, will offer parliament the power to revoke presidential pardons and amnesties if they are in discrepancy with the principles of the rule of law. The revocation of amnesties or pardons must be evaluated within 60 days by the Constitutional Court, according to the amendment. The court will be tasked with either confirming or rejecting the parliamentary decision.
The approved amendment will now be sent to President Andrej Kiska, who has 15 days to sign or veto the bill. A minimum of 30 lawmakers must then submit a motion to annul the Meciar amnesties, which must be passed with at least 90 votes.
The legislation was passed with 124 votes. The 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 – named after his father – 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 through the years have noted that rolling back the amnesties, one of them granted to Meciar’s secret service chief Ivan Lexa, was not possible under the constitution.