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Former spy boss Lexa found guilty in triptych case

A BRATISLAVA court has found the former boss of the Slovak Intelligence Service (SIS) Ivan Lexa guilty of power abuse in association with the fake purchase of an artwork, a triptych depicting the Adoration of Magi.

Lexa set up the fake deal to discredit Banska Bystrica Bishop Rudolf Baláž.

This is the first trial that Lexa has lost. However, he plans to appeal the verdict that he calls a politically motivated move, according to the daily SME.

Lexa has already been freed in three cases. In this case he must either pay a fine of Sk500,000 (€12,900) or spend 12 months in jail.

The trial began January 29, 2004, when Lexa and his ex-deputy, Jaroslav Svechota (who died late last year), were charged with power abuse. Over the course of a year the court has heard 50 witnesses.

Lexa reportedly authorized the withdrawal of $200,000 in 1995 for the fictitious purchase of "The Adoration of the Magi" from the Banska Bystrica diocese.

Compiled by Beata Balogová from press reports
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