Lexa stays in jail

A Bratislava court decided on July 20 that Ivan Lexa, former head of the SIS secret service, should be remanded in custody indefinitely while awaiting trial on eight charges including kidnapping, extortion and armed robbery.

Lexa was arrested in South Africa on July 14 by local police and returned to Slovakia on an international warrant July 18. He fled Slovakia first in July 2000, and spent just over two years in hiding abroad.

Justice Minister Ján Čarnogurský said on a TV talk show July 20 that Lexa's arrest should be seen as "a warning" to other criminals who believed they could evade justice in Slovakia.

However, the opposition HZDS party, for which Lexa is still officially a member of parliament, has said the arrest of Lexa was politically motivated, while one party member has said he feared Lexa could be forced to confess by the government under the influence of chemical injections.

The HZDS has vowed to call a special session of parliament to hold a non-confidence vote in the government.

While Lexa was at its head the SIS was allegedly involved in several crimes aimed at discrediting political opponents of then-PM Vladimír Mečiar, including kidnapping the former president's son, planting a bomb at an opposition party rally, murdering a police informant and defrauding the state of millions of crowns in funds and weapons.

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