THE EXTRADITION of alleged Slovak underworld boss Mikuláš Černák may take several weeks or months, Czech justice minister Pavel Rychetský said April 17 during an official visit to Slovakia.
He assured his Slovak counterpart, Daniel Lipšic, that all standard legal procedural arrangements have been met on the matter, and underscored that so far, an extradition request by the Czech or Slovak justice minister has never been rejected.
Rychetský refused to confirm whether Černák had asked for asylum after being recently detained in Prague, because international agreements do not require such information to be provided. But if Černák had request asylum, or planned to use other legal options in the Czech Republic, his extradition could be delayed, the minister said.
He noted that some progress has been made in the extradition procedure of alleged Poprad underworld boss Milan Reichel, who was detained in the Czech Republic in July 2002, and that of David Brtva, who was allegedly involved in the fraud of bankrupted unlicensed bank Horizont Slovakia and was detained in January.
The extradition of Slovaks from the Czech Republic is decided upon by the respective regional courts, or by the Supreme Court if there is an appeal. There are currently 329 Slovaks held for various reasons in Czech prisons.
The Czech police arrested Černák at a petrol station in Prague on April 5, and he is now in custody pending his extradition. The alleged mob boss fled Slovakia after the Supreme Court, on March 19, ordered him to be returned to prison because he had not served the required two-thirds of a prison sentence when a lower court released him.
The Supreme Court made its decision based on a complaint from Lipšic that the Trenčín regional court had violated the law by releasing Černák on probation after he had served half of his prison term. Lipšic says it is hard to predict whether Černák will be set free after serving two-thirds of his sentence.
During the Czech justice minister's visit to Bratislava, he discussed cooperation in the legislative field and institutional aspects of tasks related to EU membership with his Slovak counterpart. Rychetský said that his meeting with Lipšic, held just after both countries signed the EU accession treaty, had a symbolic meaning.
Rychetský said he did not think the conditions in Czech prisons are essentially different from those in Slovakia. He pointed to European Union standards that demand that every prisoner should have a minimum living area of six square metres. This figure is close to five in the Czech Republic, and close to four square metres in Slovakia.
- from press reports
28. Apr 2003 at 0:00