A draft law that would have allowed the state to seize property from people who could not prove that they had obtained it legally has been struck down by the Constitutional Court.
The court ruled on September 3 that the law interfered with constitutionally protected ownership rights and was retroactive, which violated the principle of legal certainty.
Originally proposed in 2005 by Prime Minister Robert Fico’s Smer party, then in opposition, the measure was heralded as a weapon to fight corruption and organised crime, and was also supported by the then-government of Mikuláš Dzurinda.
The draft law also moved the burden of proof from public and state institutions and thrust it upon private citizens, opening the door to a non-transparent way of expropriating property, the court said.
Fico said he did not like the decision, but would respect it. He added that his government would draft new legislation.
The law was challenged in September 2005 by a group of MPs from the HZDS party, now Fico’s junior coalition partner. For years, the media has been probing the origins of the property of HZDS leader Vladimír Mečiar (above). He has been unable to explain, for example, how he acquired the necessary funds to purchase and restore a luxurious villa in Trenčianske Teplice in the west of the country.