THE DEAN of Comenius University’s medical school wrote in a recent version of his expert report that a blood disorder had led to the extensive bleeding suffered by Hedviga Žáková, née Malinová, who claimed she had been attacked in August 2006 for speaking Hungarian in public in Nitra. She was later accused of fabricating the attack by the interior minister in Robert Fico’s government.
Malinová’s attorney responded that there is no evidence of any kind that she has a blood disorder and added that the dean’s report is irrelevant to further investigation into what happened nearly five years ago.
Slovak society has been divided over what happened to Hedviga Malinová since August 25, 2006, the day when she reported to police that she had been attacked. The police say their investigation into the case involved over 250 officers and interviews with 600 persons and led them to the conclusion that an attack never occurred. The police findings were released at a press conference by former interior minister Robert Kaliňák and former prime minister Fico, with Kaliňák stating “it is beyond doubt that the case did not happen”. He presented several pieces of evidence, including DNA samples, to support his assertion.
Malinová was then charged in May 2007 with perjury and making false claims and those charges against her have been left pending with the prosecutor’s office for the past four years.
Several officials of the current ruling coalition have criticised the conduct of the state bodies in the past. Rudolf Chmel, the Deputy Prime Minister for Human Rights and National Minorities, formally apologised to Malinová in December 2010, with his statement saying that Malinová’s right to due process had been breached by politicians’ premature intervention into the investigation and that her human dignity had been harmed.
“The fact that we let her literally be tortured for over four years is a big exclamation mark particularly visible on Human Rights Day and therefore I’d like to apologise to Hedviga Malinová-Žáková for these grave injuries,” Chmel wrote in a statement issued last December 10 on International Human Rights Day.
Dean's report states blood disorder caused bleeding
Slovak media reported on May 11 that the General Prosecutor’s Office had previously received an expert opinion prepared by Peter Labaš, the dean of the Faculty of Medicine of Comenius University, which had been submitted in 2009 but the prosecutor’s office returned the report, requesting clarifications.
Labaš maintains, as he had stated in his 2009 opinion, that Malinová was not attacked. In the most recent report from May 2011 he argued that her extensive bleeding from bruises and a lip laceration were caused by poor blood coagulation, the Sme daily wrote.
Malinová’s attorney, Roman Kvasnica, stated that she had no blood disorder.
“She had her blood tested and the result is that she has no problems with blood coagulation,” Kvasnica told The Slovak Spectator.
Kvasnica said he does not believe Labaš’s report can be used for criminal prosecution, saying that one of his objections is that the dean, a surgeon by profession, gave an expert opinion on topics of neurosurgery, pharmacology, psychiatry and psychology. Kvasnica also told The Slovak Spectator that Labaš had disqualified himself as an independent expert by supporting President Ivan Gašparovič in his past election campaign as well as by making statements to the media about Malinová’s health even though he was bound to silence.
Kvasnica added that the report had been signed only by Labaš even though it was the Faculty of Medicine which was asked to give an expert opinion and “the report should have been done by experts assigned by the rector, and this did not happen”.
The 2009 report
Labaš refused to comment further to the media but did tell Sme, after submitting the latest version of his report, that he regretted having given media statements on the case.
“It was a rough error and I will never ever do it again,” he said, as quoted by Sme.
His medical report submitted in September 2009 was expected to end the police investigation and assist the public prosecutor in making a final decision about whether to continue prosecution against Malinová for false statements or to end the case. The report received extensive criticism and in the end the prosecutor’s office returned it to the dean for further clarification.
The prosecutor’s office had originally requested the Faculty of Medicine of Comenius University to answer 11 questions, among them what her real injuries were after the alleged attack. The September 2009 report tended to support the police’s version of events, stating that Malinová most likely bit her own lower lip. It was signed by Labaš and included the names of another 12 experts associated with the faculty. However, at least three contributors distanced themselves from the report’s conclusions.
What was regarded as the most damaging statement in the report was attributed to dental surgeon Peter Stanko, a vice dean of the Medical Faculty. According to the report “the wound on her lower lip was most probably caused by the biting of the upper teeth into the lower lip, or by outer violent pressure of the lower lip against the lower teeth”. In 2009 Stanko told Sme that the words used by Labaš in the report were unfortunate because Stanko had not ruled out the possibility that Malinová had been struck or pushed to the ground.
Malinová sues Kaliňák
The most recent development in the case is that Kvasnica announced that he had filed a lawsuit against former interior minister Robert Kaliňák, who repeated the accusation of lying against Malinová in an interview published by Sme on May 23.
“My tongue is tied, but I would be so glad to tell the story finally,” Kaliňák said in the interview. “It can only happen here in Slovakia that an unprecedented liar is turned into almost a human rights advocate. She is a pathological liar. It’s unbelievable. Nothing is in her favour, not a single [piece of] proof.”
Kvasnica said Malinová is suing Kaliňák for making false statements “because Doctor Kaliňák keeps returning to his press conference from 2006 and it has now culminated in his statement that Hedviga Malinová is a pathological liar,” Kvasnica told The Slovak Spectator.
Kaliňák told The Slovak Spectator that he accepts the right of anyone to file a lawsuit, “but no lawsuit can change the truth and the truth is what I said; so my opinion cannot be changed by any lawsuit”.
13. Jun 2011 at 0:00 | Michaela Terenzani