NEWS BRIEFS

Mečiar one step closer to testifying

Former Prime Minister Vladimír Mečiar moved one step closer to being asked to testify in a trio of controversial Secret Service cases when the director of the Slovak Intelligence Service (SIS) said last week that Mečiar's "vow of silence" would not exempt him from giving testimony.

Mečiar has claimed that it is illegal to force him to testify about the 1995 abduction of Michal Kováč Jr. and other cases which allegedly involved his secret service, because he had taken a constitutional vow to not reveal government secrets when he was Prime Minister.

According to SIS director Vladimír Mitro, however, Mečiar can now be questioned in association with the abduction, as well as about the contents of a Slovak Intelligence Service report dated May 26, 1995, which elaborates three ways the government could remove former Slovak president Michael Kováč from office. Mečiar may also comment about the allegedly SIS-influenced sale of a valuable altarpiece by the Slovak Roman Catholic Church.

Mečiar has said he will start a hunger strike "if the police illegally detain him" and ask him to speak. He publicly warned his political opponents: "Gentlemen, wake up. No power lasts forever, not even yours. Are you calling for revenge?"

His HZDS party has said they will respond by calling for a non-confidence vote in Interior Minister Ladislav Pittner. Mass protests will also be organised, party leaders said.

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