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Wiretap in 2000 ruled unlawful

THE EUROPEAN Court for Human Rights (ECHR) ruled on June 9 that a state-ordered wire-tapping of attorney Roman Kvasnica was not in accordance with the law, the SITA newswire reported.

THE EUROPEAN Court for Human Rights (ECHR) ruled on June 9 that a state-ordered wire-tapping of attorney Roman Kvasnica was not in accordance with the law, the SITA newswire reported.

In 2000 Kvasnica was assigned by the Slovak government to gather shares of the steel-maker Východoslovenské Železiarne (VSŽ) in Košice in preparation for its sale to the American investor US Steel. He was working as the legal representative of several companies that belonged to a group of strategic steel-making firms in eastern Slovakia. At the same time, Slovakia’s Financial Police were checking the business activities of one of those companies suspected of fraud. For that reason, the Financial Police asked the Regional Court in Bratislava to allow them to tap Kvasnica’s telephone line, the SITA newswire reported.

Kvasnica learned about the wiretapping in 2001. Later on, the records of his phone calls leaked from the police and were available to business and political groups as well as the media.
“I felt absolutely humiliated when my phone conversations got into the hands of the underworld, the Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS), financial groups and persons against whom I represented the state,” Kvasnica told the Sme daily.

He filed a criminal complaint to the Interior Ministry without any success.

Kvasnica then complained to the ECHR that his right to privacy and respect for his private life had been violated. Eight years later the ECHR ruled that Slovakia had not proven there was any lawful reason for the wiretapping of Kvasnica. The judge of the Bratislava Regional Court who had singularly signed the wiretapping authorisation said he did not know the exact reasons for the request, saying that it was normal at that time, Sme reported.

About a year ago the state offered Kvasnica Sk300,000 (about €10,000) to withdraw his complaint and he refused. At the European court, Kvasnica did not seek any financial compensation; he only wanted a ruling that his rights had been violated.

“I feel satisfaction,” he told Sme.

According to Marica Pirošíková from the Slovak representation at the ECHR, the state will consider who should take responsibility after the ruling is officially delivered, Sme reported.

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