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Slovak lawmakers vote to fast-track Specialised Court law

Parliament on June 16 voted overwhelmingly (105 out of 134 present) in favour of having a government proposal to create a Specialised Criminal Court in Pezinok (Bratislava Region) fast-tracked when it comes up for debate on Wednesday, June 17.

Parliament on June 16 voted overwhelmingly (105 out of 134 present) in favour of having a government proposal to create a Specialised Criminal Court in Pezinok (Bratislava Region) fast-tracked when it comes up for debate on Wednesday, June 17.

MPs representing the junior coalition party the Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS) did not vote in favour of the proposal (three abstained, one did not vote), while most members of the other junior coalition party, the Slovak National Party (SNS), also abstained. All the MPs present for the largest coalition party, Smer, as well as the entire opposition voted for the fast-track procedure. The normal legislative procedure required to pass a bill normally takes weeks, whereas this can be compressed to days using the fast-track procedure, the TASR wrote.

If passed, the law would mean several changes for judges of the previous Special Court, including a reduction in their monthly bonus from 6-times the national average wage to 1.3-times.

The specialised court is intended to replace the Special Court, which was ruled unconstitutional in May by a decision of the Constitutional Court and subsequently abolished. The Special Court had been set up to deal with cases involving organised crime and high-level corruption.

Among other changes, the court’s judges, who are expected to be drawn from the ranks of the former court, will not have bodyguards as a matter of course, only on request. The condition requiring judges to hold a ‘Top Secret’ clearance from the National Security Authority (NBÚ) in order to be eligible will be scrapped for the new court. The remit of the proposed court will be widened to premeditated murder, illegal practices during public procurement and public auction, falsifying, changing and unauthorised fabrication of money and stocks and abuse of powers by a public authority, as well as specifically defined crimes of taking a bribe, bribing and indirect corruption.

Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
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