A police SWAT team blows down the door of former PM Mečiar's villa and hauls him in for questioning.
Slovak police had wanted Mečiar to testify in the 1995 kidnapping case of the former President's son Michal Kováč Jr. for over a month. They first sent him a subpoena through the mail, which went unanswered.
Local police then went to his villa, but were told that Mečiar was not home even though HZDS deputy chairperson Zdenka Kramplová soon thereafter entered the building while the police waited outside. For over a month, the police monitored the villa around the clock, but Mečiar never emerged.
Because Mečiar had not been charged with a crime, the police could not enter the villa by force. That changed on April 19, however, when his status in an illegal government bonuses case was upgraded from that of witness to accused. Mečiar allegedly paid out illegal bonuses totalling 13.82 million Slovak crowns ($321,000) to various ministers during his last tenure in office from 1994 to 1998.
The next morning, after issuing several warnings and receiving no response, the şblack maskş units moved in and blasted their way into the home. Mečiar was transported to Bratislava where he was officially charged with approving the illegal bonuses. When questioned about the kidnapping and the sabotage cases, he refused to testify, and was released later that day.
Charges in the case are still pending. Whether Mečiar will be prosecuted remains to be seen, but the ex-PM himself says he is not worried. Two other Slovak prime ministers - Bratislava Mayor Jozef Moravčík and current PM Mikuláš Dzurinda - both gave similar bonuses during their respective tenures. But police officials later said that Moravčík and Dzurinda would not be charged because neither man had known he was breaking the law, while Mečiar had been fully aware of the legal implications.
That line of defence led Mečiar to publicly joke about the April 20 affair after his release that day. "I told the policemen driving me to Bratislava that we should stop by and grab Dzurinda and Moravčík as well," he said. "They did the same thing."
25. Dec 2000 at 0:00 | Compiled by Chris Togneri