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Journalist charged with libel

A FORMER journalist of the Nový Čas tabloid daily – now a freelance journalist – Júlia Mikolášiková using the pseudonym Piraňa [Piranha] has been charged by the Bratislava police with libel, and now faces two to five years in prison depending on the type of libel.

A FORMER journalist of the Nový Čas tabloid daily – now a freelance journalist – Júlia Mikolášiková using the pseudonym Piraňa [Piranha] has been charged by the Bratislava police with libel, and now faces two to five years in prison depending on the type of libel.

Former police officer in the Office for Fight against Organised Crime (ÚBOK) Ivan Ševčík filed a criminal complaint against her for a story published in October 2012 quoting statements, made by Jozef Drag during his trial, who is connected with the “housing mafia”, which also involved Ševčík. For example, Drag claimed that he was the agent for criminal intelligence and Ševčík knew about his role, the Sme daily reported on December 2.

Ševčík told the investigator that he did not have exact information about the housing mafia nor Drag’s criminal activities. He also said that he does not know Drag personally and his statements are not true, according to Nový Čas.

“Since information was published in an electronic version on a publicly accessible server [website] citizens could learn about it,” Ševčík told the police, as quoted by Nový Čas. “It is capable ofharming me at work as well as with my family and in public.”

Mikolášiková said that she described what was said at a public session by Jozef Drag about Ivan Ševčík in her story.

“Every citizen has the right to search, receive and spread information obtained at public sessions of state bodies,” she said in a press release of The International Press Institute (IPI).

She added that the publisher bears the responsibility for the story as it determines publication.

“The publisher decides about publishing of any article and it is responsible for published content,” Mikolášiková said in IPI press release.

The IPI considers the decision of police as another attempt of law enforcement authorities to intimidate journalists using “archaic libel legislation in the Criminal Act”.

“IPI Slovakia considers the criminal complaint and charge as another attempt by a public official to intimidate journalists and the media,” Pavol Múdry of IPI Slovakia told the press, “and thus discourage them from fulfilling their function of controlling public authorities and informing the public about similar cases.”

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