TWO FORMER environment ministers have been charged with damage to the environment for not allowing the logging of wood in the Kôprová and Tichá valleys in the High Tatras more than five years ago. László Miklós of the Hungarian Coalition Party (SMK) and Jaroslav Izák of the Slovak National Party (SNS) could each face up to eight years in prison if found guilty, the TASR newswire reported on August 23.
The question of logging arose after a huge windstorm in the High Tatras in 2004 felled thousands of trees. The ministers, who served successive terms, both rejected the option of extracting the fallen wood. Instead, they allowed the natural process of decomposition and forest restoration to take its course. However, the remains of the fallen trees subsequently became infested with bark beetle, a parasite, which the prosecutor alleges constituted environmental damage. If the ministers had allowed logging of the wood this would have been better than just leaving it in the valleys, according to a statement issued by the prosecutor’s office quoted by the Sme daily.
The prosecutor, Ladislav Hanniker, alleges that the resulting damage now amounts to more than €9 million, TASR wrote.
Both Miklós and Izák have submitted formal complaints objecting to the charges, TASR reported.