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Court rules Fico must apologise to Radičová

PRIME Minister Robert Fico will have to apologise to his predecessor, Iveta Radičová, for calling her a liar and accusing her of being involved in alleged corruption linked to the construction of a biathlon stadium in Osrblie. The district court in Pezinok issued a ruling on May 9 in which it ordered the prime minister to publish an apology in the TASR and SITA newswires at his own expense.Radičová sued Fico in September 2011 for libel.

PRIME Minister Robert Fico will have to apologise to his predecessor, Iveta Radičová, for calling her a liar and accusing her of being involved in alleged corruption linked to the construction of a biathlon stadium in Osrblie. The district court in Pezinok issued a ruling on May 9 in which it ordered the prime minister to publish an apology in the TASR and SITA newswires at his own expense.
Radičová sued Fico in September 2011 for libel.

“With all legal consequences I want to say three conclusions,” Fico said back in 2011, as quoted by SITA. “The prime minister is incompetent, she is a liar and she is suspected of corruption. There is a collection system of tithes in the office of the prime minister. I do not believe that she would not know about it.”

According to the judge, even though at the time Radičová was serving as a public official, this statement violated her personal honour, SITA wrote.

Radičová was also seeking an apology for an “untrue and offensive” statement Fico made regarding her purported influence on a decision by Jozef Čentéš to withdraw his candidacy for the general prosecutor’s post in May 2011. At that time Čentéš said it was his personal decision because the upcoming vote had become linked to allegations that MPs were being blackmailed and bribed, TASR wrote back in September 2011.

However, the court did not accept this claim, saying that in this case the statements violated only her political rights which are not protected by the Civil Code, TASR reported.

The verdict was issued in the absence of both parties. While Radičová’s lawyer apologised for her failure to appear, Fico neither came to the court nor sent an apology.

The verdict is not valid yet since both sides have the right to appeal in 15 days.

The hearing was delayed six times due to Fico’s failure to appear at the hearings, and the court was unable to deliver official mail to him, the Sme daily reported in March 2013.

The Osrblie case

Media reports on corruption linked with the state-subsidised reconstruction of the biathlon stadium in Osrblie, Banská Bystrica Region, emerged in August 2011. The government allocated a total of €1.6 million for the project, with €1 million to come from the Education Ministry, €300,000 from the Finance Ministry and the other €300,000 from the prime minister’s financial reserve.

The police later arrested Radičová’s economics advisor Martin Novotný and former ambassador to Kenya Igor Líška. Novotný was charged with indirect corruption after being detained on August 18, 2011 following his return to Slovakia from a holiday in the US.

He was then put into pre-trial custody after his continued detention was approved by the Specialised Criminal Court on August 20. On August 24 the Supreme Court rejected an appeal in which he sought to be released on bail.

He was finally freed on October 26 after the Supreme Court ruled that he was unlikely to attempt to influence witnesses.

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