FINANCE Minister Ivan Mikloš won a lawsuit in connection with statements made by opposition Smer party leader Robert Fico, who accused him of receiving kickbacks in the privatisation of the national gas utility SPP, the TASR news wire wrote.
According to the District Court ruling, Fico must publish his apology in several specified media, but does not have to pay the requested Sk600,000 (€14,851) in compensation to Mikloš.
The court rejected Mikloš' arguments that these statements had damaged his political support.
Fico, a lawyer who defended himself in the case, criticised the court for bringing a verdict in his absence, without notifying him of the date of the main trial. He is considering appealing the first-tier decision at the Regional Court.
Standing behind his statements, Fico said the privatisation contract was absolutely disadvantageous: "And if people sign disadvantageous contracts, usually they get something in return."
At a Smer press conference in February last year, Fico even hinted that Mikloš might be wealthier than former three-time Prime Minister Vladimir Mečiar, whose ability to finance the reconstruction of his villa, Elektra, has never been fully explained to the public.
8. Mar 2004 at 0:00 | From press reports