Court frees corruption suspects

THE SPECIALISED Criminal Court has closed a high-profile corruption case from 2010 by freeing all the suspects, citing lack of evidence on July 30. Five people had been charged in the alleged corruption case, including prosecutor Michal Barila, attorney Ladislav Ščury, who was the district chairman of the Most-Híd party in Čadca, and Jozef Krajča from Smer, the Sme daily reported.

THE SPECIALISED Criminal Court has closed a high-profile corruption case from 2010 by freeing all the suspects, citing lack of evidence on July 30. Five people had been charged in the alleged corruption case, including prosecutor Michal Barila, attorney Ladislav Ščury, who was the district chairman of the Most-Híd party in Čadca, and Jozef Krajča from Smer, the Sme daily reported.

According to the daily, originally Supreme Court judge Štefan Michálik was also among the suspects, but the Constitutional Court refused to surrender him to criminal prosecution.

The charges were based on the claim that Krajča allegedly bribed Ščury to help get Barila through Michálik to secure the release of a man accused of fraud, Sme reported.

The special prosecution built the case mainly on recordings of phone conversations of the suspects, which imply that those involved had been discussing the release several days.

Nevertheless, the court lacked the main evidence, the documentation of actually taking the bribe.

“It is not possible to unambiguously draw the conclusion that there was corrupt behaviour involved on part of the accused,” said the chairman of the court’s senate Roman Púchovský, as quoted by Sme.

The prosecutor appealed the case and thus the Supreme Court will make the final decision.

The phone calls

The police recorded phone calls of Michálik during a time when prosecutor Barila, in 2010, allegedly discussed with him the release of a man accused of fraud, recordings revealed by the Specialised Criminal Court suggested, according to Sme. The court played the recordings during a public session.

The recordings suggest that Barila, who was allegedly only a mediator, discussed with Michálik the release of Ľuboš Kačkovič, who was in police custody for fraud. Michálik earlier in June said he cannot comment on the case as he does not know the content of the recordings. However, he disagreed with how the police and the prosecutor have interpreted them, Sme reported on July 6.

The police said that Kačkovič, who was at that time in custody, asked for release, offering a bribe of at least €30,000. Ščury allegedly gave the money to Barila during a meeting with their joint friend Peter J. According to the investigation, Barila then gave the money to a judge. All of them denied the accusations.

When planning the alleged bribe, Barila complained to Peter J. about how stressful the whole case is, the investigation suggests.

“It is very tiring for me, very stressful,” Barila said in one published record. “But what can I do? We have to help our friends.”

Barila said that the conversation was about his ill daughter and that Peter J. arranged an examination for her with a doctor. He refused to comment on any other conversations.

According to the recordings, when discussing the issue over the phone, all the people involved were being cautious; Barila stressed that no one should be called by name and preferred personal meetings instead of phone calls, according to Sme.

Spoiled surveillance

Sme however speculated that the anti-corruption action during which the police monitored Barila back in 2010 could have leaked, as one of the police recordings featuring a conversation between Ščury and Krajča from the day when his acquaintance was released suggests.

“The boy is out from the hotel,” Ščury said on July 14, 2010 according to the recording, as quoted by Sme.

He however insists on personal meeting suggesting that he cannot say more to the phone as he is being taped, so that it does not happen that he returns from his holiday and he “will be in an another kind of hotel”.

Ščury continues serving as attorney, Krajča despite the charge was nominated by Smer to the municipal elections and though prosecutor Barila was suspended, in December 2012, former head of prosecution Ladislav Tichý cancelled the suspension and Barila continued serving as prosecutor, according to Sme.

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