News Briefs

Agreement of Roma Parties calls for Danihel ouster
'Identify With Your Identity' census campaign planned
Prosecution of Mečiar for illegal bonuses case halted
Prosecution of Rudolf Žiak for sabotage halted

Agreement of Roma Parties calls for Danihel ouster

The Agreement of Roma Parties, consisting of Representatives of 17 Roma political parties and 68 non-governmental organisations, demanded the resignation of the cabinet appointee for the Roma Community Vincent Danihel on February 10 in Zvolen. The Roma representatives recommended that Ladislav Fizik, the head of the Roma Intelligentsia for Coexistence, be the replacement.
The group asked Csáky to stop the activities of a grant committee that is to decide on the distribution of 30 million Slovak crowns within the Roma community. The Roma representatives claim that the operation of the committee should be revised, with the money instead going to the pilot project of Visegrad Four countries to solve the problems of the Roma supported by the PHARE Fund.

'Identify With Your Identity' census campaign planned

The cabinet announced on February 13 that it would launch an "Identify With Your Identity' campaign during the May census in hopes of obtaining accurate information on Slovakia's population. Deputy Prime Minister for National Minorities Pal Csáky said that the campaign would run in several minority languages and be funded by the government at the cost of 300,000 Slovak crowns.
Csáky added that he opposed the efforts of some minority and non-governmental organisations to organise their own census. He said the efforts contradicted Slovak laws, joking that such a census would show Slovakia to have eight million citizens [Slovakia has approximately 5.4 million inhabitants - ed. note].

Prosecution of Mečiar for illegal bonuses case halted

Prosecutor Michal Barila announced February 9 that he had halted the criminal prosecution of former Prime Minister Vladimír Mečiar, who had allegedly paid out illegal bonuses to his ministers during his last government from 1994-1998. Barila said that Mečiar could not be charged individually because his cabinet as a collective body decided on paying out the bonuses.
Mečiar was arrested last April when masked police units used explosives to blow down the front door of his villa in Trenčianské Teplice and charge him with abuse of power. As prime minister, he gave out bonuses totalling 13,815,625 Slovak crowns ($293,000).

Prosecution of Rudolf Žiak for sabotage halted

The Prosecutor General Office stopped the criminal prosecution of Rudolf Žiak, a high-ranking Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS) official and former counter-intelligence boss in the Slovak Intelligence Service (SIS) on February 14. Žiak, who was facing charges of sabotage while with the SIS, had been in the US evading a national search for him announced January 11.
The Prosecutor General Office's Ján Bernat said that the cancellation of criminal prosecution and charges against Žiak did not necessarily mean that future charges would not be laid. He explained that an investigation would be carried out and future charges considered.
Bernat said that it was necessary to examine whether in this case illegal violations had occurred as the law entitles the SIS to collect, use and process information. To charge Žiak, the investigator would have to prove that the former counter-intelligence head was aware of his illegal behaviour and acted intentionally.
Žiak and his subordinates are accused of having carried out 15 conspiracy plans aimed at endangering the European Union and NATO ambitions of Slovakia, Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic. They allegedly launched the "Balaton" operation to discredit political circles of Hungary, and an operation code-named "Bridges" which tried to stir hostility between Germans and Austrians.
Other reports allege an operation aimed at hurting the image of the EU and NATO in the Czech Republic, while the operation called "Dezo" was to cast out polemics concerning the status of the Roma minority in Slovakia and the Czech Republic.

Compiled by Chris Togneri
from SITA and TASR

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