THE HOT favourite to become Slovakia’s new police chief has not, after all, made it to the top job. Former police vice-president Stanislav Jankovič, who was previously tipped for the post by Interior Minister Robert Kaliňák, was ultimately edged aside in favour of Tibor Gašpar, who presently leads the Office for the Fight Against Corruption. Kaliňák, who made the appointment, said he still considers Jankovič to be a good police officer, but added that if he had been picked for the post both he and the police force would have been showered with what he called unjustified media criticism, a reference to a case in which Jankovič faced criminal investigation.
“Many issues in his case have already been explained,” Kaliňák said, as quoted by the SITA newswire on May 9, adding that in the future Jankovič’s services would be “irreplaceable”.
The criminal investigation into Jankovič, which related to the alleged cover-up of a speeding offence, was dropped by the prosecutor in late April after he ruled that wiretap evidence which reportedly implicated the former police vice-president was inadmissible.
However, the controversy, which has received widespread media attention, was enough to stymie Jankovič’s chances and open the door for Gašpar. The new police chief is no stranger to controversy, however. Earlier this year he was accused by then interior minister Daniel Lipšic of shredding documents relating to the Gorilla file, a leaked document purporting to contain transcripts of conversations covertly recorded by Slovakia’s SIS spy agency in 2005 and 2006 implying high political corruption. Kaliňák says that Lipšic should now apologise to Gašpar.
“Lipšic should take a manly approach and apologise to Gašpar because there has never been suspicion of illegal conduct,” Kaliňák said. He said that the country’s vetting authority, the National Security Authority (NBÚ), had decided that Gašpar’s actions were not at odds with the regulations, SITA reported.
The Office for the Fight Against Corruption previously investigated a version of the Gorilla file under Gašpar’s leadership, and Lipšic has suggested that in 2008 documents related to that investigation were shredded in violation of regulations. Gašpar has denied shredding any documents illegally.
Kaliňák also said that the police under Gašpar, who was appointed to his previous post by then interior minister Vladimír Palko during the second government of Mikuláš Dzurinda, and who also served under Martin Pado (another Dzurinda-era interior minister), and Kaliňák himself between 2006 and 2010, would be the least political president of the police in recent years. Gašpar quit his post under the leadership of the previous police chief, Jaroslav Spišiak.
“He was a high police functionary under several political parties,” said Kaliňák.
Before making his decision to appoint Gašpar instead of Jankovič, Kaliňák had met the latter to hear his explanation of the speeding case.
Businessman Ján Božík was caught driving at 190 kilometres per hour on the R1 dual carriageway in June 2010. Police officers fined him €400 and, when he refused to pay, confiscated his driving licence. Božík then allegedly called Jankovič, who reportedly arrived in person at the police station in Žiar nad Hronom and asked that the driving licence be returned to the businessman and that the offence be deleted from the public record.
The pair’s alleged telephone conversation was covertly recorded because Božík was at the time being investigated over suspicions of corruption.
The prosecutor in the case, Tibor Šumichrast, said that the wiretap evidence could not be used since it was made in the course of a completely different investigation. However, in March this year deputy general prosecutor Dobroslav Trnka had said that the recordings could be used, despite their original purpose being completely different, Sme wrote.
The prosecutor concluded there was a lack of evidence to confirm that it was Jankovič who returned the driving licence to Božík, the Sme daily reported.
Jankovič also underwent a polygraph, or lie detector, test. Kaliňák denied that his decision had anything to do with the results of the test, stating that “he was truthful” while declining to expand on this.
Kaliňák said he would still talk to outgoing police chief Spišiak, who acquired a reputation for fighting organised crime in the aftermath of a massacre involving the Pápay crime gang in Dunajská Streda in 1999, without specifying whether he intended to offer him any post.
After serving as district police director in Dunajská Streda since 1998, Spišiak became vice-president of the Police Corps on October 1, 2001. He remained in that position until August 2006, when he was fired by Kaliňák. Spišiak subsequently quit the police and, according to media reports, later served as head of security at Slovnaft, the Bratislava-based crude oil refiner. Lipšic brought him back as police chief in 2010 to fight organised crime and corruption.
Spišiak said at the time that he had no choice but to accept the offer. “If I did not accept it I would go on suffering all my life. And I don’t want to suffer. Let those who deserve it suffer,” he said, as quoted by SITA.