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Cervanová accused return to jail

TWO OF the men found guilty by the Supreme Court on December 4 of raping and murdering medical student Ľudmila Cervanová in 1976, Miloš Kocúr and Milan Andrášik, have returned to jail 15 years after being released from a previous sentence for the same crime.

TWO OF the men found guilty by the Supreme Court on December 4 of raping and murdering medical student Ľudmila Cervanová in 1976, Miloš Kocúr and Milan Andrášik, have returned to jail 15 years after being released from a previous sentence for the same crime.

The men voluntarily entered jail after hearing that the Supreme Court had issued an order for their arrest, Miloš Kocúr on December 18 and Milan Andrášik a day later.

Since that time, Andrášik has been on a hunger strike, which he began, according to his lawyer Martin Kanás, after prison officials refused to take into account the statement of his doctor that Andrášik should not be jailed because of his health.

Andrášik, who suffers from tuberculosis, was taken on January 4, the 15th day of his hunger strike, from his prison cell in Nitra to the Trenčín prison hospital in failing health.

"It's just awful, we have no news of him and can't get in touch with him," said Eva Andrášiková, the prisoner's sister, for The Slovak Spectator.

"Milan's life is already in danger after 15 days of fasting. He is just fighting for his basic human rights, as he is convinced he is innocent.

"I am really surprised that no one from a humanitarian organization, no member of parliament or anyone concerned with human rights has asked why my brother is on a hunger strike and risking his life."

The men may be released after six months, because by that time they will have served the minimum two-thirds of their sentence - originally 13 years, as levied by the Bratislava District Court in 1982, but raised to 15 years last month.

The lawyer for two of the accused, Bratislava attorney Allan Böhm, says he plans to petition the Constitutional Court on the basis of the fact that the Slovak court system has consistently ignored 8,000 pages of witness statements and other evidence the police secured from 1976 to 1981.

The evidence, none of which suggests the involvement of the seven men originally jailed in 1982 for the crime, was separated from the main case file in the 1980s and hidden in a police archives in Levoča. It was not discovered by the defense until 2004, and it has never been heard in court.

Depending on the verdict of the Constitutional Court, the accused may also petition the European Court for Human Rights.

However, Böhm says he can do nothing until he receives a written copy of the decision of the Supreme Court.

In its December 4 ruling, the court also increased the sentence of Stanislav Dúbravický from 10 to 12 years, and confirmed the sentences of František Čerman (11 years), Pavel Beďač (6 years) and Juraj Lachman (3 years).

In March 1990, after the accused had already spent years in jail, Czechoslovak federal prosecutor Tibor Böhm appealed the original sentences, and was upheld by the Czechoslovak Supreme Court, which identified 72 procedural errors in the earlier court process, and returned the case for retrial.

The case then languished for years at the Bratislava region court, during which time the accused were awarded Sk2.3 million because their right to a speedy trial was violated.

Following the December Supreme Court verdict, Attorney General Dobroslav Trnka called the Cervanová case "a trauma for the Böhm family and the mother of Ľudmila Cervanová. It cannot be a trauma for the Slovak justice system."

Trnka also said that the 1990 appeal had been submitted by Tibor Böhm and current Czech ombudsman Otakar Motejl, as former defense counsel for the accused. "Given the hectic nature of the period when the decision [freeing the accused and sending the case back for retrial] was issued, the public should form its own opinion of the approach that was taken," Trnka said.

But Allan Böhm, the son of Tibor Böhm, told The Slovak Spectator that Trnka had not been telling the truth.

"My father never acted as counsel in this case. The attorney general's statement is false," he said.

"I have no trauma from the Cervanová case, but occasionally I feel a sense of trauma from everything that has gone on around it, and at the fact that those people who should be looking for the truth here are continually shutting their eyes at what has been done in the name of justice."

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