THE SPECIALISED Criminal Court in Pezinok has upheld the conditional punishments for Martin Novotný, a former advisor to ex-prime minister Iveta Radičová, and Igor Líška, a former Slovak ambassador to Kenya. The court found them guilty of indirect corruption and issued for them a one-year conditional sentence with a two-year probation period. It also ordered them to pay a fine of €10,000, the SITA newswire reported on August 12.

The verdict is still not valid, as both of the accused have appealed.

“Today’s verdict of the Specialised Criminal Court judge shows that corruption in our society has penetrated the highest levels,” the prosecutor of the Special Prosecutor’s Office said, as quoted by SITA, adding that this was obvious during the whole proceeding and everybody who was present could see that proving corruption at these high levels is very hard.

Novotný and Líška were charged in the Osrblie corruption case. They were suspected of having accepted a bribe of €30,000 from businessmen for arranging a subsidy worth €300,000 for the completion of the Osrblie biathlon centre. In total, €1.6 million was allotted for the reconstruction and re-furbishing of the National Sports Complex in Osrblie from the finances of the Education Ministry (which also has sports under its remit) and the prime minister.

Líška was detained by police in July 2011 when he was caught accepting marked banknotes worth €30,000 at the office of Novotný, who was in the US at that time.

Both Novotný and Líška claim they are innocent. Líška’s lawyer even said that nothing has proved that the money they were discussing over the phone was a bribe, as reported by the TASR newswire.

The original verdict in the case, which found four men (Líška, Novotný, plus builder Peter Kňazík and mediator Pavol Prečuch) in the case guilty, was issued on October 10, 2013 as part of the penalty notice. In addition to Líška and Novotný’s sentences and fines, Kňazík and Prečuch were given conditional sentences of nine months and six months, respectively. Both Novotný and Líška, but also the prosecutor, appealed the verdict at the time, SITA wrote.