ŠTEFAN Harabin, the president of Slovakia’s Supreme Court, has once again denied the authenticity of a transcript of a phone conversation that he is alleged to have had in 1994 with Baki Sadiki, an Albanian later convicted in Slovakia of serious drug trafficking offences and widely reported to be the head of a local drugs mafia. His denial came on the heels of news that Sadiki, who was convicted in absentia, had been arrested on October 25 in Gnjilane, a town in Kosovo. A couple of days later Harabin called the transcript “an intelligence game”. Back in 2008, the opposition cited the transcript in a motion seeking to get Harabin sacked as justice minister in the first government of Robert Fico. The initiative, which failed, was led by opposition MP and former justice minister Daniel Lipšic, who called Harabin’s ties with Sadiki “friendly”.
“For simple reasons, no such conversation could have taken place and did not take place,” Harabin said, in an official statement published by the SITA newswire on October 27. “Several journalists have already figured it out, but despite that no one has dared to write the truth about [Daniel] Lipšic’s falsification. This fact has been confirmed also by a court in the trial Harabin vs the Office of the General Prosecutor.”
This was the first public reference to a court ruling from September this year in which Harabin was awarded €150,000 in damages following a case he launched against another senior actor in the justice system, the Office of the General Prosecutor. The prosecutor’s office had, in 2008, confirmed that the phone transcript formed part of a request by the then head of its criminal department to have Harabin excluded from decision-making in cases involving Sadiki.
However, the Bratislava I District Court ruled on September 24 that the Office of the General Prosecutor, by confirming the authenticity of the transcript, had erred and must pay €150,000 to Harabin in damages for what the court called an incorrect official proceeding.
Interest charged at 9 percent per annum since January 6, 2010 boosted the sum by another €37,000, and the prosecutor’s office was also ordered to cover Harabin’s trial expenses of €11,140, SITA reported.
The case had been going on for over two years and the verdict, originally delivered in February 2011 but then overturned by Bratislava Regional Court in January 2012, was only confirmed in September, according to SITA. The Sme daily reported that the Office of the General Prosecutor said it would appeal.
Though confirmed in September, the verdict and award went unreported – since none of the parties involved spoke publicly about the case – until Harabin mentioned it on October 27.
Harabin warned media outlets against re-publishing the transcript, saying that if they did so they would bear the consequences, according to Sme.
“It is absurd,” Lipšic said, as quoted by Sme, in reference to the amount awarded to Harabin as compensation. He also said that the court ruling did not, contrary to Harabin’s assertions, cast doubt on the authenticity of the transcript.
In its ruling the court wrote that it did not address the issue of the transcript’s authenticity, Sme reported.
Harabin also claimed that the fact that the transcript is dated September 17, 1994, suggesting that he was at his office along with his colleagues at the time, showed that it was fake, since that date was a Saturday. “Thus I could have not been at work with my colleagues”, he concluded, as quoted by SITA.
Harabin also argued that he had been the subject of the police and intelligence services for a long time and that if there was any evidence, even indirect, about the case, they would have published it long ago.