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Lawsuit freezes Trend weekly accounts

THE BRATISLAVA II District Court has frozen the accounts of the Trend Holding publishing house, which runs the Trend economic weekly.

The court complied with a request from the Bartolomei Finance company, which filed for Sk140 million (€4.2 million) from the publisher in compensation for lost profits, the Hospodárske Noviny economic daily wrote.

The publishing house has appealed.

"This decision might halt the business of the publisher of Trend because the company's executive officers cannot handle money in the company's account," the weekly wrote in a statement on its website, eTrend.sk.

The court issued the preliminary injunction on September 21. It banned the publishing house from handling the money on the company's accounts - up to Sk144.4 million - and other assets.

The dispute started on January 22, 2004, when the weekly published an article warning about investing in Bartolomei Finance, arguing that the company failed to get permission to act further as a securities dealer.

The story also reported alleged doubts about the company's assets and about it avoiding financial supervision.

Bartolomei Finance took the case to the court and won. The weekly was forced to apologise and pay it one crown.

Trend says it has accepted that verdict, but it considers the analysis the court used to issue its preliminary injunction to be speculative and baseless.

The Association of Publishers of Periodical Press in Slovakia does not agree with the court's decision to block Trend's accounts. Association chairman Miloš Nemeček said it harms the freedom and independence of the press, the SITA newswire wrote.

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