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Informant exposes police ties to underworld

MEMBERS of the police department stand accused of cooperating with the underworld and committing serious crimes themselves, General Prosecutor Dobroslav Trnka announced at a press conference on September 9.

MEMBERS of the police department stand accused of cooperating with the underworld and committing serious crimes themselves, General Prosecutor Dobroslav Trnka announced at a press conference on September 9.

The cooperation includes tipping off criminals as to the whereabouts of Juraj Roszík, a policeman-turned-informant who is the principle witness in more than 140 murder and extortion cases.

Among the accused are high-ranking police officials, members of the police’s elite SWAT team, and several former employees of the Slovak Information Service (SIS), the country’s intelligence agency.

On September 10, the Sme daily reported the names of the accused police officers as Róbert P., Miroslav J., Peter K., Jozef M., and Ľubomír K.

“The police dealt this office a low blow,” Trnka said at the press conference.

Roszík is a former policeman convicted in June 2007 of murdering businessman Ján Kubašiak. In return for an 8.5-year sentence, Roszík agreed to cooperate with prosecutors, and since his arrest has been providing information on his accomplices and a slew of other crimes, Trnka said.

Roszík informed the General Prosecutors’ Office that members of the SWAT team had committed violent robberies, abductions, and murders.

Trnka said Roszík’s testimony has been instrumental in solving several cold cases. As a result, Roszík has received death threats, even while under police protection, he said.

“Someone sent him a copy of the Bible, which may mean he should begin praying,” Trnka revealed.

Trnka recalled that Roszík narrowly escaped harm on August 21, when the car he was riding in while being transported from prison to a detention cell on Račianska Street in Bratislava had to speed away from a car full of criminals.

On September 8, Alexander S., an almost-20-year veteran of the police force, was arrested and charged with tipping off the criminals about Roszík’s location.

“The police officer who was on duty at the detention cell immediately informed several suspected criminals,” Trnka confirmed.

Alexander S. even compromised the safety of the investigators researching the cases involving Roszík’s testimony, Trnka said, prompting the creation of a new investigation team.

Nonetheless, a judge ruled on September 8 that Alexander S. should not be detained while awaiting trial.

Trnka stated at the press conference that Roszík had also been threatened by a defence attorney.

“The lawyer asked him, ‘Aren’t you afraid for your life and your family when you walk out of here?’” he said.

On September 11, two days after the press conference, Roszík confirmed Trnka’s statements in testimony at the district court in Trnava.

“One of the lawyers told me face to face several sentences that I would not expect to come from a lawyer,” Roszík said, according to the Pravda daily on September 12. “I was told that anything could happen to me.”

Roszík revealed that the alleged threat had come from Juraj Trokan, who has defended former SIS boss Ivan Lexa. According to several media, Trokan admitted that he had asked Roszík about being afraid for his life and family, but argued that such a question was legal.

Some of the people Roszík has informed on have already been arrested. One of them is former police officer Miroslav J., who served on the Board of Directors at the Slovglass company.

Another is Michal Hrbáček, a former SIS agent and Slovglass’s former co-owner, who was arrested on September 12.

Prosecutors used Roszík’s testimony to take Hrbáček into custody on charges of assaulting and threatening people with knowledge of the same cases Roszík has been discussing with police.

A district court judge in Bratislava granted a request that Hrbáček be kept in custody while awaiting trial.

The court’s spokesman, Pavol Adamčiak, told the Sme daily on September 16 that the judge issued the ruling based on “a well-founded worry that he could influence witnesses, or thwart the investigation of crucial facts”.

Adamčiak reported that Peter Filip, Hrbáček’s lawyer, has already filed an appeal.

Prosecutors have had evidence against Hrbáček since his alleged involvement in the abduction of Michal Kováč Jr., the son of the former Slovak president, in Bratislava on August 29, 1995.

The charges, which were originally filed in November 2000, allege that Hrbáček trained the four operatives who wrestled Kováč from his car and forced him to drink himself unconscious while they whisked him away to the Austrian town of Hainburg.

“Hrbáček related information about the operation to the head of the 2nd Section of the SIS, who then informed Ivan Lexa,” the charges read.

Hrbáček has also been accused of involvement in other cases connected to his time at the SIS under Lexa, including the illegal disposal of weapons.

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