Rudolf Delinga is a member of parliament for Vladimír Mečiar's Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS). On April 20, he was inside the Trenčianske Teplice villa when the police raid took place. Delinga sat down with The Slovak Spectator on April 26 to give a close-up account of the seizure.
The Slovak Spectator (TSS): What happened during the police raid against Vladimír Mečiar?
Rudolf Delinga (RD): I had entered Mr. Mečiar's villa at around 7:00. There were already police units in the surrounding streets so I had to pass through a police control. Of course, they had no reason to stop me so I went in. In front of the villa I saw two TV teams which signified to me that something was about to happen. When I met Mr. Mečiar he told me that the police action had been scheduled for 5:00 that morning, but that it'd been delayed. [HZDS MP] Stanislav Husár was also there and we were with Mr. Mečiar, his wife, three bodyguards and two maintenance women.
An hour and twenty minutes later the police action started. Two policemen in civilian clothes, started calling through a megaphone, telling Mr. Mečiar that they had a subpoena for his arrest because he was being charged with giving illegal bonuses to ministers. I watched them from the terrace and I didn't see any envelope [holding the subpoena]. But they started the theatrical action anyway.
After three warnings the two policemen pulled back and vans with the special police squad arrived. They entered the villa area in a very organised manner through the back yard. They were fully equipped with masks, advanced machine guns and dogs. It was like they were attacking a fully armed group of people, even though they knew that all of us inside were weaponless. The police just wanted to show what they are capable of doing in this country.
TSS: Why did you visit Mečiar's villa that morning?
RD: [Police Chief Investigator Jaroslav] Ivor and [Interior Minister Ladislav] Pittner had already spoken publicly for a month about detaining Mr. Mečiar, so we knew something would soon happen. Moreover, the day before the raid, the police had changed Mr. Mečiar's status from being a witness to being charged. Thus, we felt obligated as parliamentary deputies to be there. We knew we couldn't protect him, but we wanted to at least be able to give evidence to Slovakia and the rest of the world how it really happened, that it was against the rule of law. We were afraid of there being a media manipulation.
TSS: Do you think that the police acted appropriately?
RD: It's difficult to say. They should have respected the fact that there were only unarmed people in the villa, as well as members of parliament. But those policemen clearly showed me that they didn't respect this - they forced me at gunpoint to lay face down like I was some criminal. They were prepared for any kind of development, but nobody in the villa resisted.
TSS: Ivor said that the police acted in that manner because Mečiar's bodyguards were in the villa. How many bodyguards does he have?
RD: I don't know the total number, but during the attack there were three. I have never seen them carry guns, not even in their service room. They were not preparing for a violent resistance.
TSS: How did you know the attack was coming?
RD: The whole night before the attack, police patrols could be seen around the villa. All entries were under police control. More and more reporters and TV teams started grouping in front of the villa. We could sense that an attack would soon take place.
TSS: Did the HZDS receive the information from a source in the Government Office?
RD: I can't confirm this information.
TSS: What was the mood in the villa, when the policemen started approaching?
RD: The mood was very depressing. Until the very last moment, we couldn't believe that such a horrible thing could happen. The women were especially very afraid. I personally thought it would be just some kind of threat.
TSS: Could this action have a positive impact on the HZDS's public support?
RD: I don't think so. Our preferences are stabilised [at around 30%]. I don't expect any huge increase of support. But this isn't about our support, this is about how the country is being governed. Even though most people can see that this is not right, some people still believe that Slovakia can be governed in this way.
1. May 2000 at 0:00 | Daniel Domanovský