HUNDREDS of people gathered on November 16 to attend the official memorial service for prominent lawyer Ernest Valko, who was shot dead in his home in Limbach, near Bratislava, on November 8. All Slovakia’s constitutional officials except President Ivan Gašparovič attended the ceremony.
Prime Minister Iveta Radičová apologised to Valko on behalf of the whole government for failing to prevent injustice and for the attack on his reputation under the previous administration, when Valko spent four nights in police custody in 2006 based on an unfounded accusation of extortion. Lawlessness and criminality spring from a lack of love, Radičová said, and apologised to Valko for not preventing lawlessness and attacks on his honour.
“For me, you have always been and will be an honest guy,” she said.
Finance Minister Ivan Mikloš also apologised for this period. Numerous prominent Slovaks came to honour Valko’s memory, among them former President Michal Kováč, one of the leaders of the November 1989 revolution Fedor Gál, writer Ľubomír Feldek and his wife Oľga, political scientist Grigorij Mesežnikov, former ambassador Martin Bútora, and many others. During the farewell ceremony Ladislav Snopko read out a message from Václav Havel, the former president of Czechoslovakia and the Czech Republic, who wrote that he believed that the malicious and cowardly act of Valko’s murder would be punished. He added that the fight for legality and democracy should carry on.
Valko was buried the same day at Martin Cemetery in Bratislava. Some 600 people attended the burial, including state officials, lawyers and many well-known figures from Slovak public life. The burial was conducted by Catholic priest Anton Srholec who said during the ceremony that Valko had always loved truth and justice and that this was the legacy that he should leave in this world. Srholec stressed that Valko should be included among those precious people from whom others should learn. His departure from this world should mobilise people who honour moral values, he said, as reported by SITA.
Ernest Valko played a central role in framing several crucial post-communist laws which set the course of Czechoslovakia and then Slovakia after the Velvet Revolution. He was shot dead in his home in Limbach, near Bratislava, on November 8. His body was found in the living room of the house by his ex-wife and daughter who reported their discovery to the police.
His killing has attracted intense interest in the Slovak media; politicians, lawyers and other public figures have expressed their shock at his death, commenting that Slovak society will feel his loss.
22. Nov 2010 at 0:00 | By Michaela Terenzani with press reports