New Cervanová documents found

WHILE two men convicted in the 31-year-old murder case of Ľudmila Cervanová have been denied parole again, the state archives has disclosed documents from the investigation into the mysterious slaying.

WHILE two men convicted in the 31-year-old murder case of Ľudmila Cervanová have been denied parole again, the state archives has disclosed documents from the investigation into the mysterious slaying.

The materials obtained by the Nation's Memory Institute (ÚPN) from the Slovak Interior Ministry include files and documents from the Twelfth Department, or the Counter-Intelligence Department, in Bratislava. This unit organised and carried out spying, wiretapping, home searches and other monitoring of people and buildings for the Slovak government between 1974 and 1989.

László Bukovszky, the head of the ÚPN Archives, told The Slovak Spectator he could not yet specify what was included in the new evidence.

"We have still not studied all the materials obtained," he said.

The Slovak Spectator obtained exclusive materials about the funeral of Cervanová, whose body was found drowned in the creek in the village of Kráľová pri Senci in July 1976.

Her funeral ceremony on July 22, 1976 at the Bratislava crematorium was attended by dozens of her colleagues, friends and acquaintances. The communist-era secret police (ŠtB) took pictures of all of them and carefully recorded the license numbers of the cars that came to the ceremony.

The ŠtB started their monitoring as early as 11:30 near the Mlynská Dolina student residence in Bratislava, as the schoolmates of Cervanová, a medical student, left for the funeral.

After the funeral, the ŠtB spied also on one of Cervanová's colleagues, Ján F., who was suspected of murdering her. They opened the file called "Voda," or Water, on July 24, 1976 - two days after the funeral.

The file carefully recorded Ján F.'s every move, including his meetings with acquaintances, and also the fact that his phone was bugged. Transcripts of his phone calls were not included in the file.

The file does not explain why the ŠtB stopped considering Ján F. to be a suspect and stopped monitoring him.

What is known is that police turned their attention to six men from Nitra who were later convicted of the rape and murder of Cervanová. Two of them are in jail now and Slovak authorities have repeatedly refused to release them on parole.

If the documents on Ján F. were found in the ŠtB archives, it implies that police must have made similar detailed records on the men from Nitra, a source told The Slovak Spectator. However, their files have not been found in the archives of the ÚPN so far.

"Maybe they will be found in the future, but I think they have been shredded instead," said the source, who requested anonymity.

So far, only fragments related to the Cervanová murder have been found in the ŠtB archives. For example, a file called "Emigrant" contained materials that showed the ŠtB monitored sisters Lydia and Sylvia Cohen in Paris. The French women visited Bratislava during the first two weeks of July 1976, when Cervanová was killed. They were invited by František Čerman, one of the men who was convicted of her death.

Investigators, and later judges, said the Cohen sisters visited a disco in the Unic Club in Mlynská Dolina with two of the convicts, Čerman and Milan Andrášik, on July 9, 1976 - the day when Cervanová was abducted from the disco and killed.

But the Cohen sisters have maintained that they were at the disco the day before Cervanová's murder, and that they spent the next day with Čerman and Andrášik but not at the disco.

Documents found two years ago in the police archives in Levoča uncovered testimony from more than 315 people who were at the discotheque the night of Cervanová's abduction. According to the testimony, some of the witnesses remembered Cervanová or even talked to her, but no one remembered any of the men convicted of her murder, nor the Cohen sisters.

The six men were found guilty by the Regional Court in Bratislava in September 1982, but after the fall of the communist regime, the Supreme Court threw out the verdict, claiming there were 72 procedural and factual errors made during the investigation and trials.

The case returned to the courts after 16 years, at the request of the defendants. The Supreme Court found them guilty in December 2006. Two of the men - Andrášik and Miloš Kocúr - were given longer sentences and sent back to jail.

The convicted men have appealed the latest verdict, and they say they are ready to file a complaint with the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

Parole denied again

On September 25, the Regional Court in Trnava decided at a closed session to deny parole for Andrášik. The judge in Trnava denied Andrášik's appeal of the ruling of the District Court, which one month ago rejected his request for parole, court spokesperson Jana Kondákorová told the media.

Andrášik's sentence will end in August 2011.

Andrášik's lawyer, Martin Kanás, told The Slovak Spectator that he did not know the judge's reasons for the ruling, and he had not received any official notification about the decision at press time.

He said he did not understand why the court did not consider the fact that Andrášik was free for 16 years after he and the other sentenced men were released in 1990. The parole system is designed to grant early release (after two-thirds of a sentence) to people who have been reformed in jail, Kanás said.

"Tell me, who, if not these two men, should be released on parole?" he asked. "They lived freely for 16 years - a normal life, without a single misdeed. They have proved ever since that they can lead an irreproachable life."

He also objected to the fact that Kocúr and Andrášik filed nearly identical parole requests several weeks ago, but the responses were different. One judge turned down Andrášik, but a second decided to release Kocúr, he said.

"I really do not understand this. How can two very similar issues be decided absolutely differently by one court?" Kanás said.

In the end, Kocúr was not released either. The prosecutor filed an appeal, insisting that a psychological examination was needed to confirm that Kocúr has been re-socialised and that Kocúr should publicly express his regret about murdering Cervanová. Kocúr refused to do it.

"I cannot do it," he said during the trial. "I am sorry that this young woman died, but I did not kill her. I am innocent."

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