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Weekly publishes 54-page apology

THE PUBLISHER of the Plus 7 Dní weekly was ordered to publish an apology that would stretch across 54 pages. The local branch of the International Press Institute (IPI) has condemned the verdict.

THE PUBLISHER of the Plus 7 Dní weekly was ordered to publish an apology that would stretch across 54 pages. The local branch of the International Press Institute (IPI) has condemned the verdict.

A court 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 is to 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?’ with the subhead ‘Company of SNS MP Štefan Zelník got more than €1.6 million from EU funds on the reconstruction of a polyclinic. It is being carried out by a company whose legal representative is in motorcycle club with Ján Slota’.

The Žilina District Court in 2012 and subsequently the Žilina Regional Court in 2013 ruled in the case.

The weekly’s editor-in-chief, Miloš Luknár, said that they considered the ruling un-executable, “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”, as cited by SITA.

The Bratislava judge who decided in the execution proceedings however ruled that publishing such an apology is acceptable both from a material and formal perspective. The publisher of the weekly filed an appeal against the verdict, but the Supreme Court has yet to rule on it, SITA wrote.

The courts also granted €33,200 in damages to Zelník and another €22,100 to his company.

“This repeatedly confirmed absurd verdict only proves what [kind of] state the Slovak judiciary and justice system is in,” head of the local IPI branch Pavol Múdry said, as quoted by SITA. Múdry sees two possible reasons for the verdict: either the judges who decided on the case had absolutely no knowledge of media-related issues, the production process in the media and publishing technology, or it was their aim to humiliate journalists and the media so that they do not dare to be critical and fulfil their role in the future.

He 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.

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