THE STATE will officially apologise to one of its citizens, Hedviga Malinová, over her involvement in an unresolved criminal case that has traumatised Slovak society, particularly in the realm of Slovak-Hungarian relations, since 2006. The text of the apology is expected to be released to the Slovak media in the coming days.
The apology will be based on a settlement between Slovakia and Malinová recently approved by the European Court of Justice (ECJ). Reportedly, in the text of the settlement, the government of Iveta Radičová does not explicitly admit that the state harmed Malinová during the criminal investigation, but it does state that certain circumstances about the case raise doubts in terms of respect for Malinová’s rights as guaranteed by the European Convention on Human Rights.
The Slovak government will officially apologise to Malinová, an ethnic-Hungarian Slovak citizen, and in return she will not sue the country before the European Court for Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg for what she has called errors during the investigation that failed to guarantee her fair treatment, the Sme daily reported.
“From the legal point of view it is enough for me that in the case where Hedviga acted as an aggrieved person, a breach of basic human rights could have occurred,” Roman Kvasnica, Malinová’s lawyer, said in his reaction to the settlement, as quoted by the Sme daily.
The government will issue a communiqué to the media for the purpose of resolving the case via the agreed settlement. The official text of the apology will be published in the coming days, said Ľubica Pilzová, spokesperson for the Government Office. She did not specify what the text would include, Sme wrote.
The case of Malinová, who has since married and is named Žáková, has become notorious and even contributed to a deterioration in relations with Slovakia’s southern neighbour Hungary.
Malinová reported that she had been assaulted on her way to an exam at her university in Nitra on August 25, 2006. She suggested that this might have happened because she was heard speaking Hungarian. The police say their investigation of the case involved over 250 officers and interviews with 600 people, and that it led them to conclude that the alleged assault never took place.
The police findings were released on September 12, 2006, at a press conference held by then-interior minister Robert Kaliňák and then-prime minister Robert Fico at which Kaliňák stated: “It is beyond doubt that the case did not happen”. He presented several pieces of alleged evidence, including DNA samples, to support his assertion. Malinová was later charged, in May 2007, with lying to police and making false claims. However, the charges have never been laid before a court and the case remains pending with the General Prosecutor’s Office.
Kvasnica recently said that he would be satisfied only after the criminal prosecution against Malinová-Žáková had been terminated and the General Prosecutor’s Office had undergone a massive clean-up, Sme wrote.
The general prosecutor at the time of the original allegations, Dobroslav Trnka, said that the settlement between the state and Malinová was “wrong and premature”, as reported by Sme.
The apology to Malinová is not completely unprecedented, as the deputy prime minister for human rights and national minorities, Rudolf Chmel, previously apologised to her in December 2010.
Chmel stated in his official apology that Malinová's right to a just process had been breached by politicians’ premature intervention in the investigation and that this had negatively affected her reputation.
“The fact that we let her be literally 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 the statement issued on Human Rights Day on December 10, 2010.
23. Jan 2012 at 0:00 | By Peter Bagin with press reports