Kováčik re-elected for 3rd term

SPECIAL prosecutor Dušan Kováčik, whom Interior Minister Robert Kaliňák called the right man in the right place, was re-elected on May 15 by parliament. Political ethics watchdogs groups had argued that after a decade on the job it was time for Kováčik to be replaced.

Dušan Kováčik (Source: SME)

SPECIAL prosecutor Dušan Kováčik, whom Interior Minister Robert Kaliňák called the right man in the right place, was re-elected on May 15 by parliament. Political ethics watchdogs groups had argued that after a decade on the job it was time for Kováčik to be replaced.

Kováčik, the sole candidate, was elected for his third term for the office, which among other things oversees serious cases of organised crime and political corruption. In a secret ballot, 92 of the 118 deputies present voted for him.

He was proposed by General Prosecutor Jaromír Čižnár, who praised Kováčik’s “managerial skills, professional knowledge, psychological balance”, the TASR newswire reported on May 15.
Yet, judicial ethics watchdog Via Iuris has doubts about Kováčik, who has already been on the job a whole decade and was re-elected for a seven year term.

“The Special Prosecution under the management of Kováčik has not managed to solve any of the larger political corruption cases,” Via Iuris said in a release, suggesting that his department has not made much progress after two years in the investigation of the Gorilla case.

The case involves the anonymously leaked Gorilla file, a lengthy document that purports to describe an operation conducted by the Slovak Information Service (SIS), the country’s main intelligence agency, in which it collected information about the influence of the Penta financial group on senior Slovak politicians between 2005 and 2006.

Via Iuris argues that in Slovakia the public often witnesses that state power in reality is not executed by politicians who were elected in regular elections, but “different interest groups and oligarchs who are corrupting and buying politicians”.

“The Special Prosecution in charge of prosecuting corruption is however investigating and prosecuting these crimes minimally,” Via Iuris said, adding that in Slovakia there are almost no cases of high public officials being prosecuted for corruption.

The opposition parties, except for the Slovak Democratic and Christian Union (SDKÚ) which voted for Kováčik, criticised the vote, with Christian Democratic Movement (KDH) Chairman Ján Figeľ saying that the office needs a change and more courage to fight corruption.

Lucia Žitňanská of Most-Híd described the fact that there was only a single candidate as “something unhealthy”, TASR reported.

Meanwhile, Dušan Muňko of the ruling Smer said that the situation with a sole candidate does not mean that “there aren’t enough experts. But some prosecutors are not interested in being covered by the media and politicians”. He also said that Kováčik has not done anything that would disqualify him from running for re-election.

In 2009, Kováčik had a challenger, Peter Šufliarsky, the deputy of the general prosecutor for the penal section, but defeated him after receiving 117 of the 139 votes. Kováčik was first elected in May 2004 under the government of Mikuláš Dzurinda.

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