“THIS is how the mafia works, they take care of their own.” Daniel Lipšic’s assessment of Tomáš Borec’s decision to help a former regional Smer politician convicted of corruption stay out of jail, at least for the time being, does contain some degree of political hyperbole. Borec is no Mafioso.

But the opposition MP does have a point. The case of František Olejník, a former member of the Košice city council, illustrates several worrying points.

Firstly, the powers of the justice minister are too broad. Sure, there may be cases when his right to file a final appeal make sense. But why does he have the right to suspend someone’s jail sentence until a final ruling? Shouldn’t that be up to the courts?

Secondly, this particular justice minister is somewhat of a disappointment. The choice of Borec, who was not previously affiliated with Smer, was a big surprise. But he has proven to be a loyal and invisible figure. In a country where the judiciary is deeply distrusted, the failure to introduce any real reforms is a problem in itself. Letting a corrupt politician off the hook is just a bonus.

Thirdly, the scandal illustrates why Smer cannot be trusted with any deeper changes in the courts. The temptation to install loyal judges who will help members out of trouble if needed will be too great.

And lastly, the case proves why it is not a good idea to elect Robert Fico for president. His family already runs too much of the country.