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Two Cervanová accused cannot take polygraph

MILAN ANDRÁŠIK and Miloš Kocúr, who were imprisoned for the July 1976 murder of medical student Ľudmila Cervanová 30 years ago, will not be allowed to take a polygraph test in an attempt to prove their innocence.

MILAN ANDRÁŠIK and Miloš Kocúr, who were imprisoned for the July 1976 murder of medical student Ľudmila Cervanová 30 years ago, will not be allowed to take a polygraph test in an attempt to prove their innocence.

Both asked for this test after four other men who were convicted of the same murder but have since served their sentences took it.

Andrášik and Kocúr are currently in the Leopoldov jail. On March 12, Oto Lobodáš, the general director of the Board of Prison Service, told the ČTK news wire, "Neither the law on serving one's sentence, nor any other obligatory legal provisions, permit a person serving their sentence to take a polygraph test."

However, Allan Böhm, attorney for two of the other convicted men, does not agree.

"The law does not settle the problem of whether a convicted person can undergo a lie detector test," said Böhm. "It is definitely not forbidden by law. The director of the prison is fully authorized to decide whether he will allow a prisoner to undergo such a test or not.

"This is similar to when a prison director decides whether a prisoner can meet a psychologist or not. Or whether a prisoner can be allowed to take part in a funeral. A polygraph is a completely harmless thing and, to be honest, I see no reason why a prisoner should not be allowed to take part in such a thing."

František Čerman, Pavol Beďač, Juraj Lachman and Stanislav Dúbravický, who were not re-imprisoned after the Supreme Court's ruling last December as they had already served their sentences, took the tests last month. All four of them were tested by American polygraph expert Patrick Coffey, who has trained Slovak police and investigators in the use of lie detectors, and received the same unambiguous result - that they had nothing to do with the murder.

However, it seems that the courts will not be taking the test results into consideration.

"In my opinion, the results of a polygraph test are not evidence," said Milan Karabín, the President of the Supreme Court.

Seven men from Nitra were convicted in the early 1980s of murdering Cervanová, the daughter of the lieutenant colonel of the Slovak Air Force.

After the fall of communism, the Federal Supreme Court contested the verdicts of lower courts. It found 72 cases where the investigators and courts had breached the law so it returned the Cervanová case to the regional court for a re-trial.

However, after the Czechoslovak federation split up, Slovak courts delayed the case for another 14 years. In December 2006 the Supreme Court finally declared a verdict almost identical to the one given by the communist courts but did not give it in writing.

When asked by The Slovak Spectator last week why the written verdict had still not been delivered, President of the Senate of the Supreme Court Štefan Michálik refused to answer.

Michálik has asked for the written verdict's deadline to be extended numerous times. Originally he asked for the deadline to be extended to February 22, then to March 5, and now he has asked for yet another extension.

"The President of the Senate has asked for another delay, this time until April 5," Eva Rupcová, spokesperson of the Supreme Court, told The Slovak Spectator on March 15. "He has stated that this case is very complex and that so far he has only managed to write half of the verdict."

Without the written verdict, the convicted cannot appeal to the Constitutional Court, but they have said they are determined to do so as soon as the verdict has been announced.

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