THE PUBLISHER of the Plus 7 Dni weekly was ordered to publish an apology that would stretch across 54 pages of the weekly. The local branch of the International Press Institute condemned the verdict.
Courts ordered the weekly to publish the apology to former Slovak National Party (SNS) MP Štefan Zelník printed in headline letters as well as the entire story, which would fill 54 pages in the weekly. The original article, which included information linking the former MP to the murky drawing of EU funds, was published on October 22, 2009 on two and a half pages, including pictures, the SITA newswire reported. The story was entitled ‘Coincidence?’ and the subhead ‘Company of SNS MP Štefan Zelník got more than €1.6 million from EU funds on the reconstruction of a policlinic. It is carried out by a company whose legal representative is in motorcycle club with Jan Slota’.
The Žilina District Court in 2012 and subsequently the Žilina Regional Court in 2013 ruled in the case.
The editor-in-chief of the weekly, Miloš Luknár, said that they considered the ruling unexecutable “not only for the unusual form and scope, since the law clearly says that the apology should be appropriate, but mainly due to the fact that the court set out an absolutely unfulfillable condition to publish it in the issue of the weekly that was issued four years ago”, SITA quoted him as saying.
The Bratislava judge who was deciding in the execution proceedings however ruled that publishing such apology is alright both from material and from formal perspective. The publisher of the weekly filed an appeal against the verdict, but the Supreme Court still has not ruled on it, SITA wrote.
The courts also granted €33,200 in damages to Zelník and other €22,100 to his company.
“This repeatedly confirmed absurd verdict only proves what state the Slovak judiciary and justice is in,” head of the local IPI branch Pavol Múdry said as quoted by SITA. Múdry sees two possible reasons for the verdict: either it is that the judges who decided on the case had absolutely no knowledge of media issues, the production process in the media and the publishing technologies, or it was their aim to humiliate journalists and media so that they do not dare to be critical and fulfill their role in the future.
Múdry expressed his full support for the publisher of the weekly and said he believes they will appeal at the Constitutional Court or the European courts if necessary.
“If the case makes it as far as to Strasbourg, Slovak courts will suffer yet more shame once again,” he told SITA.
Compiled by Michaela Terenzani from press reports.
The Slovak Spectator cannot vouch for the accuracy of the information
presented in its Flash News postings.
26. Mar 2014 at 14:00