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TIS: Bribery going unpunished

THE COURTS punished people for a total of €120,000 in received bribes each year, while it is estimated that actual bribes amount to many times higher, according to Transparency International Slovakia (TIS).

THE COURTS punished people for a total of €120,000 in received bribes each year, while it is estimated that actual bribes amount to many times higher, according to Transparency International Slovakia (TIS).

Around 48 percent of all cases of bribes which went to court were bribes under €20, and bribes higher than €100 account for just one-quarter of all cases assessed by the courts. Just 5 percent of all cases involved serious corruption related to public tenders, European funds or elections. Moreover, bigger bribes that cause the most harm to the public are not necessarily punished more severely, according to a TIS survey, which analysed corruption verdicts of the Specialised Criminal Court in Pezinok from 2012 to 2014, totalling 239 cases.

“Corruption is almost non-punishable here,” TIS Director Gabriel Šípoš told the press on August 14, as quoted by the TASR newswire.

The police dealt with 848 cases of corruption in 2012, while they sent a motion for indictment in 99 cases and 103 persons were accused of such crimes. In 2013, the police noted 576 cases of corruption, sent 58 motions for indictment and 103 persons were accused. The sum of demanded bribes in those two years totalled €800,000, according to the Interior Ministry, the SITA newswire reported.

Most of the bribes come in the form of cash, but there were also cases of free furniture, alcohol or pizza. Bribes are mostly given to doctors or state offices, when people have minor demands such as seeking approval for missing work. The punishments issued by the courts in those cases usually involved a one-year probation or a fine, Samuel Spáč of TIS said, as quoted by SITA.

There is poor public supervision of corruption cases since the public is able to attend hearings in just one-quarter of all court cases. TIS also discovered that state employees are cleared of such allegations four times more often than ordinary citizens, and courts punished those who gave bribes more often than those who accepted them, according to SITA.

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