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Supreme Court brings verdict to Matula murder case

AFTER more than eight years, Slovakia's Supreme Court ended the so-called Matula murder case by sentencing four men accused of murdering commercial lawyer and former general secretary of the Slovak National Party (SNS), Jozef Matula, the daily SME wrote.

Matula was murdered in Bratislava's Petržalka suburb more than eight years ago. Since then the defendants managed to obstruct court proceedings and delay the delivery of a final verdict.

The Supreme Court cancelled Bratislava Regional court's judgement of March 26, 2004, and sentenced the foursome unconditionally to a total of 47 years in prison. The convicted were not present to hear the verdict on June 7.

Kristian Ružiè was sentenced to 14 years in prison and Milan Mesároš was given a 15-year sentence. Their accomplice, Štefan Mészároš, was sentenced to 13 years and Ludovít Takáè to five years in prison.

Since the three-year limit of pre-trial custody elapsed long ago, the convicts have been waiting for the final verdict as free men.

The trial lasted over seven years. The main hearing began in April 1998. During the process, the accused raised objections against individual senate members, accusing them of bias. They also changed their lawyers and the trial had to be interrupted because of the objections, TASR wrote.

On March 23, 1998, a court found the accused guilty and decided on unconditional sentences of between 6 to 13 years. Both the prosecutor and four accused appealed the decision, thus involving the Supreme Court. On July 12, 2000, the Supreme Court cancelled the judicial decision because of a procedural glitch at the Bratislava Regional Court Senate.

On April 9, 2001, a new main trial began. The convoluted case has also come before the Constitutional Court.

Compiled by Beata Balogova from press reports
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