Amendments to Slovakia’s criminal law book submitted on March 21 by the Justice Ministry for interdepartmental review are expected to speed up criminal proceedings, limit the possibilities for obstructions and improve the conditions for law enforcement agencies in investigating serious offenses, the SITA newswire reported.
SITA wrote that Minister Lucia Žitňanská said that changing the Penal Order and the Penal Code is in the interest of both the accused and those damaged by criminal actions. The amendment will deal with use of evidence obtained by application of IT equipment, sanctioning illegal construction, damaging cultural monuments and criminal liability of public officials.
The new legislation also proposes to limit obstructions and speed-up criminal proceedings by introducing an obligation on the defendant to select an attorney as early as possible. This would mean that a court would not need to postpone hearings due to an abrupt change in the attorney, who might demand time for becoming familiar with the case.
A trial will also be allowed to be held without the presence of the defendant for crimes punishable with up to ten years imprisonment instead of the current five years. There is the new possibility to undertake legal proceeding without the presence of the defendant in cases when it is impossible for the court to contact the accused. Concluding a plea bargain will also be easier and the amendment will also widen a range of crimes allowing deployment of people who are not policemen as police agents.
The amendment will also cover vote-buying in elections as well as illegal construction in which an offender could be sentenced to up to two years in prison. Additionally, a public official could be sanctioned by one to five years imprisonment for causing damage exceeding €133,000 or injury or death of a number of people due to negligence. The Justice Ministry seeks to have the changes to both laws become effective in September 2011.
Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
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22. Mar 2011 at 14:00