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IN SHORT

Opposition MPs rally behind Special Court

THE SCOPE of operation of the Special Court, an institution that the previous government established to tackle corruption and organized crime, should be extended to cover also less significant forms of corruption, according to opposition MPs Daniel Lipšic from the Christian Democratic Movement (KDH) and Gábor Gál of the Hungarian Coalition Party (SMK).

If the revision is approved, the Special Court and the Special Attorney's Office will deal with all corruption cases. The opposition MPs believe that by having the Special Court handle such cases, it would sever local ties between defendants and presiding judges, which often prevent impartial investigations and verdicts in bribery cases.

The two MPs also want to allow both institutions to handle cases involving assassination and counterfeiting. They propose that the revision take effect in early November 2006.

However, the proposal is virtually certain to be defeated, as most coalition MPs are in favour of abolishing the court or at least clipping its wings. Justice Minister Štefan Harabin has already announced different plans for the Special Court, and has launched legislative proceedings to modify its status and powers, as well as court judges' salaries. The government should deal with Harabin's proposal in September.

The minister further indicated that the status of the Special Court could be reduced to that of a district court.

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