FORMER prime minister Iveta Radičová testified in the corruption case involving her former external advisor Martin Novotný, and also Igor Liška, on May 20. She denied having ever talked with Novotný about the completion of the biathlon complex in Osrblie. Both Novotný and Liška are being charged with indirect bribery over arranging the final funding of the project.
“I can confirm under oath that Mr Novotný has never spoken with me on this issue,” Radičová stated in the courtroom, as quoted by the SITA newswire. After the hearing, she told the media she has never been able to get over the fact that he could be somehow involved in the case. “I could not believe it,” she added. She immediately recalled him from the post due to reasonable suspicion, and she would now not work with him anymore, as her trust in him has been undermined by the case.
Novotný, who worked as an external aide for investments to former Radičová, and one-time diplomat Liška, are accused of having accepted a €30,000 bribe for arranging a subsidy worth €300,000 for the completion of the biathlon centre. Liška, the former Slovak ambassador to Kenya, was detained by police in July 2011, caught red-handed with marked banknotes worth €30,000 at Novotný’s office.
The state attorney claimed that Novotný also promised to arrange an additional €1.3 million subsidy from the Education Ministry, SITA reported.
The money was intended for the completion of a multi-use building in Osrblie’s biathlon centre. The government assigned 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 Government Office instantly fired Novotný from his post “due to the loss of trust”, while the subsidy for the project was cut by Radičová. The investigation did not show any involvement by Radičová or Olympic biathlete Anastasia Kuzmina, who had officially requested the subsidy from the prime minister.
Radičová pointed out that her government did not decide on the construction of the Orsblie complex, meant for the European Championship, and that the Education Ministry only decided on its continuation. “Otherwise it would be a total waste of money, as about one million euros had been invested in it previously,” she added.
Radičová gave to the court the official police finding that the investigation found no damages stemming from the allocation of public funds or that anyone would commit fraud in this case.
Novotný denies that he had asked for a bribe for arranging the subsidy for the completion of the Osrblie complex. Liška said he did not know anything about influencing providers of subsidies.
The trial will continue on June 24, when wiretappings will be heard as evidence, and a verdict could come as soon as July 2.
Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
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21. May 2014 at 10:00