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Former spy boss Lorenc escapes jail

THE LAST head of the dreaded Czechoslovak secret police (ŠtB) will not go to jail for ordering the illegal arrest and detention of dissidents in the Velvet Revolution, a military court has ruled.
An earlier ruling handing Alojz Lorenc a 15-month suspended sentence for abuse of public office was upheld by a court in Trenčín April 24, bringing a definitive end to a process that began with his arrest for communist crimes in 1990.
But some politicians called the sentence an insult to those who had suffered under the ŠtB.


Alojz Lorenc
photo: Ján Svrček

THE LAST head of the dreaded Czechoslovak secret police (ŠtB) will not go to jail for ordering the illegal arrest and detention of dissidents in the Velvet Revolution, a military court has ruled.

An earlier ruling handing Alojz Lorenc a 15-month suspended sentence for abuse of public office was upheld by a court in Trenčín April 24, bringing a definitive end to a process that began with his arrest for communist crimes in 1990.

But some politicians called the sentence an insult to those who had suffered under the ŠtB.

"It's a sad mockery of all the victims of totalitarianism," said MP Ján Budaj.

The sentence was far milder than the four-year jail term a Czech court ordered him to serve in 1992 for the same crime. Lorenc, a Slovak, refused to serve the sentence in the Czech Republic after Czechoslovakia split into the Czech and Slovak republics the following year.

Slovak authorities began legal action against him in 1995 but only brought him to trial last year.

After the trial the 62-year-old communist criminal-turned-entrepreneur maintained he was only carrying out his duty when detaining people.

"I cannot acknowledge guilt because it would be in contradiction with my entire 35-year service in the armed forces. There is not one testimony that would bear witness to my abuse of public office.

"In not one of the orders I gave was there the name of a specific person to be arrested at a specific time. The orders were to stop activities that at that time were qualified as criminal," said Lorenc.

Slovak prosecutors have been criticised for not producing more witnesses against Lorenc. The trial in the Czech Republic heard testimonies from more than 300 people, while only 11 were presented to Slovak judges.

Attorney General Milan Hanzel said the confirmation of the earlier sentence was important. "I'm pleased. There is now a valid ruling that confirms guilt and punishment," he said.

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