THE INVESTIGATION of the case of Hedviga Malinová (who has since married and is now called Žáková), which has been making headlines for the past six years, still appears to be far from over. At the beginning of June the Office of the General Prosecutor asked for an expert examination of Malinová’s mental condition to be conducted at an outpatient clinic. The aim was to check the findings of Malinová’s doctors, László Sárközy and Jozef Hašto, who claimed that she was traumatised by the attack and suffered from depression.
Now prosecutor Jaroslav Kozolka is asking for Malinová to be hospitalised at a mental institution for an extended examination, citing her alleged refusal to communicate with the experts chosen to conduct her last examination, the Sme daily reported on August 14.
Malinová’s lawyer, Roman Kvasnica, had advised that she attend the session, but exercise her right to remain silent.
“She refuses to testify as an accused [person] and they cannot force her to do so even if the psychiatrist poses the questions,” said Kvasnica, as quoted by Sme.
He added that his client will not talk with anybody selected by the current Office of the General Prosecutor.
On the other hand, the Office of the General Prosecutor regrets that “the advocates [of Malinová] are not interested in an objective investigation of the case and are using methods which are on the edge of the law”, Sme reported.
Meanwhile, Judge Anna Trnková dismissed the prosecutor’s proposal and advised the prosecutor to examine Malinová without hospitalising her, adding that he might threaten her with a fine of €1,650 if she does not attend the session.
The prosecutor has already appealed the verdict, Sme reported on August 21.
Although Jana Dubovcová, the public defender of rights, is not handling the case – since Malinová has not asked her to – she said she is watching it closely. Based on the media’s presentation and the length of the investigation she asserts that it is an “inappropriately long proceeding during which Hedviga Malinová is in long-term legal uncertainty”.
“Therefore I have many reasons to think that her basic right to court and legal protection and for the case to be [conducted] within an appropriate period of time was violated,” Dubovcová told The Slovak Spectator.
She explained that the psychiatric examination is evidence that might be used in other trials. If someone wants to examine a person in a hospital, it is necessary to have the consent of the court, which assesses the appropriateness and the necessity of the request, she said.
According to her, conducting such an examination after six years is absurd and incomprehensible since “making a regressive psychiatric examination of one’s mental state from several years ago is a special piece of evidence, therefore it should be justified by the severity of the situation”, explaining that it should be used only in cases of very serious crimes.
Yet, Dubovcová said that since Malinová is under investigation for suspicion of perjury, she considers it unnecessary.
A very long investigation
The case began six years ago, on August 25, 2006, when Malinová, an ethnic-Hungarian, reported that she had been assaulted on her way to a university exam in Nitra. Then-interior minister, Robert Kaliňák, soon after described Malinová as a “pathological liar”, and already strained relations between Slovakia and its southern neighbour Hungary grew tense over the handling of the case.
The investigation, which involved over 250 officers and 600 suspects, led the Slovak police to conclude 15 days later, on September 12, 2006, that no attack had actually occurred. The police findings were communicated at a press conference by Kaliňák and then-prime minister Robert Fico, at which Kaliňák said that “it is beyond doubt that the case did not happen”, supporting his assertion with several pieces of purported evidence, including DNA samples.
Malinová was later charged in May 2007 with lying to police and making false claims, but the case has remained unprosecuted for four years. Meanwhile, Kaliňák has repeatedly called Malinová a liar, while her attorney Kvasnica has announced that she will sue Kaliňák for libel.
Kvasnica says that during the years since the incident, the whole case has become politicised. The police should have spoken with the psychiatrists about Malinová’s mental condition during its “unprofessional” 15-day investigation, Kvasnica said in an interview with the Týždeň weekly. He added that if Malinová had been examined back in 2006 the investigators would have had a completely different opinion of the assault.
“They would understand that when she was talking about [details] she does not remember, it was not an attempt to hide or lie about something,” Kvasnica said.
He added that psychiatrists diagnosed Malinová’s mental condition in 2006, recording what she had said, which was important since it was done right after the assault and the police hearing.
“I gave this report to the prosecutor [Jaroslav] Kozolka and he ignored it,” Kvasnica told Týždeň, adding that the office of the prosecutor might have known that if it heard the psychiatrists, their testimony would contradict the information presented in the media.
Also, Hašto considers the request of the prosecutor for hospitalisation of Malinová nonsense, saying that it would be enough to read the whole investigation file and regard it with common sense.
“I consider it [the proposal to examine Malinová in a hospital] continuation of the harassment of her,” he told Sme.
Kaliňák criticises previous apology
At the beginning of the year it seemed that the situation around Malinová and the investigation of her attack might finally be resolved. The previous government of Iveta Radičová agreed to apologise to Malinová before the European Court of Justice (ECJ).
The text of the settlement reads that the government 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.
In return, Malinová promised she would not sue the country before the European Court for Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg for what she has called errors made during the investigation that failed to guarantee her fair treatment, Sme reported in January.
Yet Kaliňák, who was reappointed to the post of the interior minister this year, criticised the apology, saying that he considers it “inadequate and scandalous since the whole investigation showed the exact opposite”, Sme wrote.
Marie Vrabcová, a reporter for the Hungarian-language daily Új Szó, covered the Malinová case in detail in her book, Hedviga, basing it on interviews with Malinová, Kvasnica, and Hašto.
Vrabcová writes, “Hedviga Malinová was attacked on August 25 at 19:30 by two shaven-headed young men dressed in black in a park near the Hungarian Department of the University of Constantine the Philosopher in Nitra”.
Vrabcová’s book describes how Malinová’s attackers overheard her speaking Hungarian, after which they shouted at her “In Slovakia, [speak] Slovak”. After repeating themselves, the two men dragged Malinová into a nearby park where they physically assaulted her until she lost consciousness. After regaining consciousness, Malinová went to school where her classmates noticed her injuries and a message written on the back of her blouse: ‘Hungarians go behind the Danube; SK without parasites’. Her professor called the emergency services, notified the police and the press and took pictures of the assaulted student. In a state of shock, she could not clearly recall the details of the incident.
Two separate hospital examinations confirmed Malinová’s injuries, noting that she was suffering from a concussion as well as post-traumatic shock and possible memory loss, according to the book.
Vrabcová reported that the physicians’ reports maintained that her injuries were unambiguously caused by blows from hands and fists.
On the same day, she was interviewed by police investigators who “submitted her to irregular questioning. They did not inform her of her rights, did not read her statement back to her, and when copying the original handwritten report, left out one sentence”.
“Based on the handwritten report Malinová said the following things: in terms of whether before the incident I was on the phone or I met someone, I think I did meet someone and I spoke to [someone in Hungarian]. However, this sentence is missing from the computer version of transcript,” Vrabcová wrote.