The Slovak publishing company Spoločnosť 7 Plus has been ordered to pay €49,500 in personal damages to Vladimír Mečiar, the leader of the junior governing coalition party the Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS), for an article published in 2004 by a news magazine it owns.
The Regional Court (KS) in Bratislava issued the verdict on September 16, thus overturning the verdict of the court of first instance.
“The article in question was objectively able to have a discrediting impact on the plaintiff’s personality, and thus cause him damage concerning his honour, dignity, and respect in society to a great degree,” the KS senate’s chairperson was quoted as saying in the verdict. Originally, Mečiar sought damages amounting to €99,582. In April 2005, the court of first instance ruled that the weekly’s publisher must apologise to the politician in writing, but refused to award damages. Mečiar appealed the verdict.
He sued the publisher, which publishes the Plus 7 Dní weekly, after it published an article in May 2004 containing information about the financing of his ‘Elektra’ villa in Trenčianske Teplice and about the state of his mental health. According to the lawyer acting for Mečiar, a former prime minister, readers could have got the impression that the money for the villa had been obtained in an unethical or even illegal way, and that Mečiar was insane. Today’s verdict is final and cannot be appealed.
Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
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