JUSTICE Minister Viera Petríková apologized on August 18 for what she called a misunderstanding at the Michalovce District Court. On July 9, two reporters from the Sme daily newspaper wanted to enter the courthouse to attend a public hearing in the case of Jan P. against Petit Press, the publisher of the daily, the SITA newswire reported.
Sme reported on July 10 that its two reporters were denied entry at first and left in front of the courthouse gates, as guards at the entry to the building refused to let them in, allegedly on instructions from the court chairman or from Judge Gabriel Štefanovič who presided over the hearing. Finally, one of the journalists managed to get inside after showing a court document subpoenaing her as a witness in the public hearing.
The minister said that through consultations with court chairmen and representatives of prison and correctional guards, she would adopt measures to prevent such a situation being repeated. The minister paid a visit to the Michalovce court as well.
The Justice Ministry has already closed its investigation into the case. Ministry spokesman Michal Jurči presented its position that the inquiry failed to confirm that the chairman of the Michalovce District Court, Jozef Soročina, issued a verbal or written order not to permit journalists into the courthouse. The ministry’s position is further that the journalists were not ultimately wronged as they eventually did enter the hearing.