NEWS BRIEFS

President Schuster grants amnesties to mark his inauguration

Slovak President Rudolf Schuster signed an amnesty decision July 14 which will pardon inmates accused of minor crimes, such as those in jail for financial negligence not exceeding 20,000 Sk. The amnesty also pertains to pregnant women, single mothers, and men older than 65 years in custody, along with terminally ill prisoners.

The decision will free 1,000 of 7,000 sentenced people in Slovakia. General Prosecutor Milan Hanzel said that former Slovak Information Service (SIS) officer Jaroslav S., who testified about his role in the 1995 Michal Kováč Jr. kidnapping case, may be included in the pardon.

It has become a tradition for a newly elected president entering his/her post in Slovakia or the Czech Republic to grant an amnesty for less serious crimes. Former Czechoslovak President Václav Havel and former Slovak President Michal Kováč granted amnesties upon entering their posts. Former prime minister Vladimír Mečiar, who assumed some of the presidential powers on March 3, 1998, amnestied those involved in the Kováč Jr. kidnapping and those involved in the marred 1997 NATO referendum scandal.

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