AFTER the controversial election of former justice minister Štefan Harabin as the president of Slovakia’s Supreme Court and head of the country’s Judicial Council, the justice ministry will again be led by another judge.
Harabin had served as a member and president of the Supreme Court before he assumed the post of justice minister.
In line with the governing coalition agreement, the post of justice minister is in the hands of Vladimír Mečiar’s Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS) party, which has chosen Viera Petríková, Prime Minister Robert Fico and Mečiar announced on June 30.
Petríková is the chair of the Vranov nad Topľou District Court in Prešov Region and the current vice-chair of the Judicial Council.
“She meets all requirements for this important post as it includes not only the post of justice minister but also the position of government vice-chair,” said Fico, as quoted by the TASR newswire.
“I’m very glad that another charming woman will join my government,” the SITA newswire quoted Fico as saying.
Several candidates for the post were tabled and even though “some of them were excellent individuals, their acceptance wasn’t that good,” said Mečiar, adding that he had settled on just the one candidate by the time he had his get-together with Fico.
Mečiar said he was glad the new minister has wide experience from her work as a judge.
“I believe she will be a person with a big action radius and she will secure the continuity of all the positive things that have been done at the ministry,” he said, as quoted by SITA.
The new minister was expected to be appointed to her ministerial office on July 3.
The former head of the justice department and current MP for the Christian Democratic Movement (KDH), Daniel Lipšic, said that in the past Petríková, while serving as a member of the Judicial Council, had been a strong supporter of Štefan Harabin.
“No other nomination could have been expected from Vladimír Mečiar,” Lipšic told TASR, adding that Petríková was appointed to the post of the chair of the District Court by then-justice minister Harabin in 2007.
Given these facts, Lipšic doesn’t expect any changes in the policy of the Ministry of Justice under Petríková.
“She will continue what Mr. Harabin has been doing but since the parliamentary term is coming to its end, fortunately, there’ll be no ground-breaking proposals,” TASR quoted Lipšic as saying.
On the day when the name of the new ministerial candidate was announced, Mečiar said he had already talked to her about ways to solve the problems concerning the law on origin of illegal assets. That law was ruled unconstitutional by Slovakia’s Constitutional Court.
“It is our effort, we are finding a legitimate way to accomplish it,” Mečiar said, as quoted by TASR.
According to Prime Minister Fico, who had temporarily assumed the ministerial duties at the justice ministry, there is no acceptable solution which would solve the previous law’s conflict with the constitution.
“The ministry is working on the intent of this act,” he said. “When the new minister takes office, if the president appoints her, I will talk about it with her and we will try to find some solution which would be not only effective but also in agreement with the constitution. Now we are searching for some space in the taxation laws.”
Mečiar had noted that it may be possible to find a way of solving the problems with illegally-gained assets by looking at methods used by other countries, for instance in Germany or Switzerland.
On the other hand, countries which have problems with terrorism, such as Italy, Spain or Ireland, are not very appropriate, Mečiar said.