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News Briefs

Secret ballot in parliament confirms Harabin

Parliament narrowly voted against a cabinet proposal to sack Supreme Court Chief Justice Štefan Harabin in a December 19 secret ballot. Of 138 MPs present, 60 voted for Harabin's dismissal, while 62 voted against.
The cabinet approved Harabin's dismissal in August, prompting the embattled judge to appeal to European Commission President Romano Prodi and to the United Nations for what he called the Slovak government's anti-constitutional interference in judiciary independence.
Dato Prama Cumaraswamy, the special rapporteur of the UN Secretary General for the Independence of Judges, recently asked parliament to delay the case because such a dismissal would have a serious impact on the independence of Slovakia's judiciary and democracy.


Communist secret service boss will not serve sentence

Alojz Lorenc, the last boss of the Czechoslovak Communist secret service (StB) who is accused of abuse of state power, will not return to prison, said the chairman of the Military Court in Bratislava Bohuslav Padrta on December 18. The ruling comes because the five year statute of limitations has expired on the sentence he received in 1992 from the Czechoslovak Military Court in Tabor, Czech Republic.
Lorenc received a four-year prison sentence in 1992, but was released after the 'Velvet Divorce' dividing the two countries in 1993 under an international agreement on the non-extradition of citizens to other countries. A Slovak, Lorenc refused to serve his sentence in a Czech prison, allowing for his release to Slovakia.
Lorenc then could not be persecuted in Slovakia because the law states that a citizen cannot be sentenced twice for the same crime. The failure to imprison Lorenc means that Slovakia has yet to sentence a single former communist, although a trial is now proceeding against former Communist leader Vasil Biľak.


Compiled by Chris Togneri
from SITA and TASR

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President Kiska uses train for first time Photo

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President Kiska gets off the IC train in Bratislava.