TWO Slovak papers are to pay millions of crowns in penalties for libeling Ján Slota, head of the opposition Real Slovak National Party (PSNS), and Miroslav Kotian from the opposition Slovak National Party (SNS).
A court in the northern Slovak city of Žilina has ruled that the daily Nový čas, a top-selling tabloid, has to pay Sk5 million to Slota for a story the paper wrote in 2001 saying that Slota had urinated from the terrace of a Bratislava restaurant. Slota said he would use the money to get himself "a nice car".
Although Slota, the mayor of Žilina, said he did not know any of the judges involved in his case, Nový čas journalist Slavomír Klikušovský said after the verdict that "it would have been a miracle to win a court case against Slota in Žilina."
Kotian won Sk1 million in court against the Pravda daily, which in its 1999 piece doubted whether the MP, then a student of crisis management at Nitra University, had actually graduated from secondary school.
Kotian said he had been surprised that Pravda journalists had not contacted him before running the story. Although Pravda released an apology to Kotian one day after the original article was printed, the MP argued that the story caused him and his family "trauma".
Kotian told The Slovak Spectator that he would give Sk250,000 of the award to erect a statue of the Virgin Mary near Bojnice castle, "give some money to other charities and also give my family the gift of a holiday".
By Martina Pisárová