TWO Slovenian citizens, Alen Z. and Sebastjan M. were sentenced to 23 and 20 years in prison, respectively, by the Trnava district court for financing and organising the transport of acetic anhydride from Slovakia to Turkey. The chemical is a precursor that, according to the prosecutor, could have been used for heroin production in Afghanistan, the SITA newswire reported.

It is the first verdict in the infamous case known as “the Turkish truck”, which dates back to 2010. The police learned about these activities thanks to a key witness whose testimony was the basis for the police operation in December 2010.

A Czech truck set off from a warehouse in Dunajská Streda, loaded with what the driver believed to be 17 tonnes of disinfectant. In fact, the truck was carrying acetic anhydride, which according to the Interior Ministry, had been stolen by an international drug gang from a factory in Europe and could have been used to produce some 400 kilograms of heroin, which the gang was planning to sell back to European countries, including Slovakia.

Zdeněk Pekara, the driver who unwittingly drove the substance across Europe to Turkey, was arrested upon his arrival at an Istanbul warehouse on December 24 and only released after several days, once the circumstances had been explained.
The police at that time faced a wave of criticism in the Slovak and Czech media. The authorities blamed the Turkish side for marring the operation. The Slovak police later paid the driver €25,000 in damages.

Prosecutor Jozef Kandera from the General Prosecutor’s Office said that the police acted legitimately in this case, because that was the only way to unveil the criminal activities and charge the culprits, SITA wrote.
The key witness is now under police protection and the criminal prosecution against him has been stopped, according to SITA.

The two men have appealed the district court’s verdict. The Trnava district court is dealing with three other cases in connection with this case, with altogether eight people charged.

Source: SITA

Compiled by Michaela Terenzani from press reports
The Slovak Spectator cannot vouch for the accuracy of the information
presented in its Flash News postings.