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Candidates for chief prosecutor known

MEMBERS of parliament put forward three candidates for the post of attorney general before the November 14 deadline. Coalition parties have voiced objections to none of them, but have yet to decide on who will gain their support.
The term of current Attorney General Milan Hanzel will end in January 2004, and Hanzel announced well in advance that he has no plans to try for a second term in office.

MEMBERS of parliament put forward three candidates for the post of attorney general before the November 14 deadline. Coalition parties have voiced objections to none of them, but have yet to decide on who will gain their support.

The term of current Attorney General Milan Hanzel will end in January 2004, and Hanzel announced well in advance that he has no plans to try for a second term in office.

Legislators are expected to vote on his replacement in a month's time.

"The offer is good; they are all professionals," said Prime Minister Mikuláš Dzurinda.

Ivan Šimko, MP for the Slovak Democratic and Christian Union (SDKÚ), has proposed current chief military prosecutor Dobroslav Trnka for the country's top prosecution post. Trnka has gained much publicity in recent months, after his office took over the investigation of phone-tapping scandals that include top state officials and the media.

Though the intelligence service and the Interior Ministry were both involved in the case, military prosecutors have freed the ministry of any suspicions and indicted members of the intelligence service for the abuse of official authority.

Šimko, who is heading a group of rebels within the SDKÚ (see page 3), has not consulted his move with the party. SDKÚ boss Dzurinda has said his party will not officially put forward any candidate, arguing that his party already put its people in charge of the intelligence service and the Defence Ministry. However, he has called Šimko's proposal "good".

MP Jirko Malchárek of the New Citizen's Alliance (ANO) suggested that little-known prosecutor Vojtech Ernest, who works at the attorney general's office, replace Hanzel, citing "excellent references" as the main motivation for his proposal.

Last among the candidates is Ján Bernát, current head of the special prosecutor's office, which deals with most serious criminal activities.

Tibor Cabaj, MP for the Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS), decided to name him as a suitable successor to Hanzel.

On October 18, representatives of the coalition parties failed to agree on their candidate of preference, putting the decision off until a later time.

Hanzel has announced that, after he leaves the top spot, he will continue to work at the attorney general's office.

"There is more than enough work there. I almost have to wonder why the unemployment rate is so high in Slovakia," said Hanzel, according to the SITA news wire.

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