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Lexa nabbed, charged with hiring hitman

FORMER chief of the Slovak Secret Service (SIS) Ivan Lexa was arrested and taken into police custody December 5 charged with ordering a murder, misuse of powers and endangering state secrets.

At a press briefing shortly after Lexa's arrest Interior Minister Vladimír Palko said that Lexa had been charged with ordering the car bomb killing of former officer Robert Remiáš on April 29, 1996.

Palko said Lexa promised the hitman "a minimum of Sk2 million ($48,000)" to carry out the killing.

The murder was part of an attempt to thwart the investigation of the 1995 kidnapping of former president Michal Kováč's son.

Lexa served as SIS chief under premier Vladimír Mečiar (1994-1998) and is a member of his Movement for a Democratic Slovakia party. In March 1998 Mečiar placed an amnesty on crimes committed in connection with the kidnapping of Michal Kováč Jr.

Lexa faces eight other charges in connection with activities while he was in office.

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