The Slovak Supreme Court on July 8 confirmed the conviction of six men sentenced for the murder of medical student Ľudmila Cervanová thirty years ago, thus removing what is probably their last opportunity for appeal.
Peter Préti, of the Office of the Supreme Court, told the ČTK newswire that the court had turned down the appeal as it found no flaws in the original case.
Cervanová, then 20, was raped and killed in summer 1976. After a lengthy process of trials and appeals, six men from Nitra were finally sentenced in December 2006; most of them had already served out their sentences. Of the six, only Milan Andrášik is still in prison, and is likely to be freed during 2011.
The convicted men claimed their case was manipulated by the communist regime, and that they were merely coincidental victims of the police effort to find the perpetrators. On these grounds they appealed the verdict. But the senate of the Supreme Court expressed no doubts about the evidence and on June 1, in a closed session, it confirmed their sentences.
The Cervanová case is one of the longest-running and most controversial in the history of Slovak justice. According to evidence presented in court, Cervanová was kidnapped from a disco in the Bratislava student dormitory in Mlynská Dolina, made to drink alcohol in a flat and then raped. She allegedly defended herself and said she would report her attackers to the police, after which she was killed. The case gave rise to much debate from its outset, key evidence was subsequently lost in the police archives, and questions were raised over the value of evidence sought from witnesses long after the original attack took place. The suspects claimed they were innocent and alleged they had been forced to plead guilty as a result of mental and physical pressure applied by the communist police and judicial system.
Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
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