THE AUTHENTICITY OF THE DOCUMENT PUBLISHED BY DAILY SME CONFIRMED

Testimony leak investigated

THE LEAK of the testimony of PM Mikuláš Dzurinda regarding the group that, in the in the eyes of the PM, is damaging the interests of the state and his party, the Slovak Democratic and Christian (SDKÚ), is under investigation. The material was published by the national daily SME in its December 9 issue.
Attorney General Milan Hanzel said it was outrageous that the report, which is believed to have at first appeared on the internet, was published.
On December 10, The Slovak Spectator could not access the report on the indicated internet site.

THE LEAK of the testimony of PM Mikuláš Dzurinda regarding the group that, in the in the eyes of the PM, is damaging the interests of the state and his party, the Slovak Democratic and Christian (SDKÚ), is under investigation. The material was published by the national daily SME in its December 9 issue.

Attorney General Milan Hanzel said it was outrageous that the report, which is believed to have at first appeared on the internet, was published.

On December 10, The Slovak Spectator could not access the report on the indicated internet site.

Dzurinda's spokesman, Martin Maruška, said to reporters on December 9 that it is "highly disquieting when media resort to illegal practices by publishing the accounts of Slovak citizens".

SME editor in chief Martin Šimečka could not be reached for comment on the accusations, but in the introduction to the material published on December 9, he wrote that he understood the "dilemma between the right to confidentiality of a testimonial account and the right of the public to information".

"The prime minister, however, is in a different position than other citizens because he heads the executive power," Šimečka wrote.

"In this case, I consider the public's right to information that is closely related to the country's political development to be considerably greater than the right of the PM-citizen to keep secret his opinions and allegations that he made to the prosecutor," he wrote.

Since Dzurinda first spoke of the group publicly in early August, the domestic political scene has been through major turmoil.

The former defence minister, Ivan Šimko, was recalled from his post after he refused to support the recall of the head of the National Security Office, Ján Mojžiš, in a cabinet vote in early October.

Mojžiš was fired soon after. Šimko then founded an independent platform inside the SDKÚ, calling the relations inside the party "sick". Just recently, he announced that he and six SDKÚ MPs are leaving the party, putting the cabinet into a minority position. (See story page 1)

Authorities confirmed the authenticity of the published testimony, given by the PM on August 18.

The account covers the PM's allegations that businessman Miloš Žiak was a company lobbyist specializing in state tenders.

Mojžiš was considered Žiak's aide and he was reportedly paid for his activities, according to the testimony. In the account, Dzurinda alleged that Žiak conspired with intelligence services and abused media sources.

The unspecified group allegedly stood behind several past cases, including the 1999 tender for the third mobile operator that ex-telecom minister đGabriel Palacka, then a party peer of Dzurinda, cancelled.

Over allegations of bribery in relation to the move, Palacka was forced to leave the cabinet. The allegations, however, have never been confirmed.

Dzurinda mentioned other highly lucrative state tenders in which Žiak allegedly meddled. He also said that Žiak and Mojžiš often visited the US embassy in Bratislava and spread false accusations about Dzurinda and Finance Minister Ivan Mikloš to Ambassador Ronald Weiser. The US embassy refused to comment on the leaked information.

Both the office of the special prosecutor and the Interior Ministry ruled out the possibility that the material could have been leaked from their teams.

"It is absolutely out of the question that the PM's testimony could have been leaked from the Interior Ministry and the investigation team environment," Boris Ažaltovič, the ministry's spokesman, said to The Slovak Spectator.

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