One of the main flaws in the tragic police sting that saw an undercover officer and an informer shot dead on August 4 was that the officer's briefcase did not contain the money from the robbery they had staged, independent MP and former interior minister Vladimír Palko said on August 6.
"The problems included the communication between with those who were in charge of the operation and (the need for) improvisation. The place where the briefcase was supposed to be handed over (to the head of the gang) was constantly being changed. (The haul comprised of) bills of exchange and a notebook was not in the agent's briefcase. When the murderer discovered this, a conflict ensued," Palko said.
The informer, known only as Ivan R., came to police headquarters in Klačany (Trnava region) on August 3 to report that he had been asked by a Ladislav B. to assist him in robbing a currency-exchange office in Levice (Nitra region). The police hatched a plan, according to which Ivan R. was to go along with the robbery, and police officer Robert V. (the agent) would be his undercover accomplice. Meanwhile, other police officers were at the ready to arrest the perpetrators. The undercover officer and Ivan R. then robbed the office before it opened on August 4 and joined Ladislav B., the murderer, in his car afterwards. Ladislav B. took the men to a petrol station in Levice, where they were to meet Martin S. (the kingpin who ordered the robbery) and hand over the loot.
The plan went awry when Martin S. failed to appear. The three men continued on their way, but 400 metres down the road a conflict broke out between Ladislav B. and Ivan R. that ended in both the police officer and Ivan R. being shot and killed. The police then immediately intervened and detained Ladislav B., the car and another person who was driving the vehicle. Several hours later, they were able to find and arrest the head of the gang, Martin S.
"This was the most tragic police operation in Slovak history," said Palko, adding that support should be shown for the police force at the moment. Palko didn't want to say who should be held responsible for the tragedy. "I don't want to hand out any red cards today, this is a day of mourning," he said.
The murdered policeman was buried in Nitra on August 6. Slovak Police Corps president Ján Packa has ordered an inquiry into the whole case, and will comment on it when the results are available, said spokesman Martin Korch. TASR
Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
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7. Aug 2008 at 7:00