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Diplomats attend court hearing on Harabin’s lawsuit

The district court in Bratislava has opened the hearing over the lawsuit submitted by Supreme Court President Štefan Harabin against psychiatrist Renáta Papšová for her statement from April 2012. The hearing was attended by several diplomats, including US Ambassador to Slovakia Theodore Sedgwick, British Ambassador to Slovakia Susannah Montgomery and representatives of Danish, Dutch and Swiss embassies, the SITA newswire reported on June 25.

The district court in Bratislava has opened the hearing over the lawsuit submitted by Supreme Court President Štefan Harabin against psychiatrist Renáta Papšová for her statement from April 2012. The hearing was attended by several diplomats, including US Ambassador to Slovakia Theodore Sedgwick, British Ambassador to Slovakia Susannah Montgomery and representatives of Danish, Dutch and Swiss embassies, the SITA newswire reported on June 25.

“As a doctor I can say that sometimes the illnesses are infections, and our justice is ill; Juraj Majchrák became ill, JUDr [Marta] Lauková also died because of the hard persecution of doctor Harabin,” Papšová said, as quoted by SITA, back in April 2012 during a public debate titled Judges about Judges. She was a doctor of the mentioned judges both of whom died. While Majchrák committed suicide, Lauková died after serious health problems.

Harabin sued Papšová for this statement, and is now asking for €100,000 in compensation, plus another €200,000 from the public-service broadcaster Radio and Television of Slovakia (RTVS), which recorded the statement and used it in a programme, Reportéri, on May 2012, SITA wrote.

Though the trial was attended by representatives of the diplomatic community, Harabin was not there, since he was on a work-related trip in Montenegro, said his lawyer Elena Ľalíková. She said that Harabin’s lawsuit is legitimate since the public might have perceived Papšová’s statement to mean that Harabin had been responsible for the deaths of the two judges. Ľalíková stressed that this is not true since Papšová based her statements only on what her patients told her, SITA reported.

On the other hand, Papšová’s attorney, Tomáš Kamenec, said that his client was only expressing an evaluation statement. He stressed that this proceeding is “a fight for the character of the country”, explaining that it is necessary if the judiciary in the democratic society might be criticised, or whether it will be sanctioned by the court, as reported by SITA.

“Through the personal attendance the ambassador and other representatives of the embassies try to directly understand how Slovakia approaches law and freedom of media,” said press attaché for the US Embassy in Slovakia Matthew Miller, as quoted by the Sme daily, when explaining the diplomats’ presence at the hearing.

Source: SITA, Sme

Compiled by Radka Minarechová from press reports

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