News Briefs

SNS MP's refuse to surrender parliamentary posts
HZDS legal experts outraged by anti-amnesty draft
Supreme Court boss repeats call for independence

SNS MP's refuse to surrender parliamentary posts

A January 10 announcement by opposition Slovak National Party (SNS) boss Anna Maliková that the SNS would abandon their two parliamentary posts has been publicly contradicted by the two MP's who hold the posts in question. Deputy speaker of parliament Marian Andel and SNS party-mate Miroslav Kotian, Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee for Conflicts of Interest, both announced on January 18 that they would not give up their jobs.
Maliková said that the joint resignations would signify the SNS's commitment to the betterment of Slovak society over its desire for high-ranking positions. But Andel, a staunch supporter of former SNS boss Ján Slota who has been asked repeatedly by Maliková to resign from his post, said the move had a personal motive.
Malikova said on January 10 that she believed Andel would respect the decision to give up his post because rulings of the SNS board of directors are "holy" for each SNS member.
In related SNS news, the SITA press agency reported that the controversial Slota, who lost his position after bouts of public drunkenness, has been planning a political comeback in hopes of regaining the SNS chairmanship. In response, Maliková said that the SNS is not a social happening to which one can buy a ticket and return to any time he or she wishes.

HZDS legal experts outraged by anti-amnesty draft

Opposition Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS) legal experts Peter Brňak, Ivan Gašparovič and Jan Cuper criticised a draft constitutional amendment that would cancel the amnesties extended by former Prime Minister Vladimír Mečiar for people involved in the 1995 abduction of Michal Kováč Jr. to Austria.
The draft was prepared by Justice Minister Ján Čarnogurský, who said it was based on the 1992 Resolution of the UN General Assembly which protects citizens from kidnappings and excludes amnesty for kidnappers. Čarnogurský also cited the preamble of the Slovak Constitution.
Gašparovič said on January 13 that the draft law was flawed because if passed it would be retroactive, making it anti-constitutional. "If there were a biological aspect to this law, I'd say that what Čarnogurský has done is to clone nonsense," he quipped.
According to Gašparovič, the January 20 verdict of the Constitutional Court must be respected. The ruling stated that former secret service officer Jaroslav Svěchota's constitutional rights had been breached when he was prosecuted for the Kováč Jr. kidnapping despite the Mečiar amnesty. In adopting Čarnogurský's law, "parliament and MP's would start replacing the decisions of the courts, which is complete nonsense," he said.

Supreme Court boss repeats call for independence

Supreme Court Chief Justice Štefan Harabin said on January 14 that independence and a non-partisan status would be the main priorities of the judicial branch for the year 2000. Harabin said that it was necessary to increase the effectiveness of legal decision-making and to separate the judiciary from the executive and legislative branches of government. He also called for the adoption of a new Judicial Code, arguing that it would strengthen the independence of judges.
Last year, the Supreme Court handled 1,115 complaints from citizens, but Harabin said that the number of unfinished cases increased because of a lack of judges. To combat the manpower shortage, Harabin said that he had proposed 10 judges be transferred from district courts to the Supreme Court, effective January 1. However, he said he has not received a response from Justice Minister Ján Čarnogurský.
Harabin also said that the Supreme Court should receive a separate budget and separate headquarters from the Justice Ministry, conditions common in both western European countries and in post-Communist countries like Hungary and Poland. He also called for improvements to working conditions and salaries.

Compiled by Chris Togneri
from SITA press agency

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