Via Iuris wants examination of Gorilla case

NGO Via Iuris will ask General Prosecutor Jaromír Čižnár to examine the steps taken by his subordinate, Special Prosecutor Dušan Kováčik, during the investigation into the Gorilla case, the TASR newswire learnt on November 5.

Gorilla is now a term alleging corruption in 2005-6. Gorilla is now a term alleging corruption in 2005-6. (Source: SME)

The Gorilla case concerns alleged corruption involving senior politicians and entrepreneurs at the time of Mikuláš Dzurinda’s second government (2002-06).

Via Iuris has embraced this initiative due to new facts that emerged regarding suspicions about the potential sale of the key piece of evidence: the recordings from the safe house of the financial group Penta at Vazovova Street. The findings were presented on the same day at a press conference together with journalist Marek Vagovič.

“We consider the past investigation into this extraordinarily serious scandal to be absolutely inadequate,” said lawyer Zuzana Čaputová, who collaborates with Via Iuris, as quoted by TASR. “No individual has been charged in almost four years. We therefore consider it necessary to ask the General Prosecutor to examine the lawfulness of the past approach of the Special Prosecutor who presides over the investigation into the Gorilla case.”

Čižnár stated that he will not interfere at this stage with the investigation into the Gorilla case. He announced in advance that he will not bow to the request which Via Iuris plans to make to him.

Former Slovak Intelligence Service (SIS) counterintelligence director Ľubomír Arpáš and the financial group Penta conceded that they cooperated in the past via a company called Barkont, said Vagovič, whose findings were reported earlier in the day by the news website.

“This has, in fact, corroborated the authenticity of the part of the Gorilla file that points to this cooperation,” said Vagovič, as quoted by TASR. According to the Gorilla file, Arpáš gave the safe house recordings to representatives of the financial group Penta for 3 - 4 million Slovak crowns [€99,582 - €132,776], an allegation which both parties have denied.

Arpáš told that following his departure from SIS, he was preparing health care analyses for the financial group. He claimed not to remember the overall sum he received via Barkont. Penta claims that it didn't hire Arpas as a health care expert but rather as a professionally educated expert on intelligence work.

Via Iuris pointed out that the police started the investigation into the case twice already this year, with the first investigation being shut down by the Special Prosecutor. The NGO is also asking the PG Office whether the authorities have looked into the suspicion that former SIS staffer Arpáš sold recordings on the Gorila case to the financial group.

In his reply to Via Iuris, the Special Prosecutor claimed that an investigator of the National Criminal Agency on June 25, 2015, issued a resolution on the launch of a criminal prosecution over the abuse of powers of a public official, potential compromising of confidentiality and bribery. According to Kováčik, the prosecution was also launched because of an excerpt from the Gorilla case regarding the sale of the recording.

Via Iuris perceives this criminal prosecution to be a second attempt by the police to sweep the case under the rug.

“We find it incomprehensible why we can’t know the reasons that led to the first investigation to be shut down,” Čaputová said, as quoted by TASR.

“In order to find out whether the recordings were sold, it’s necessary to question key witnesses: former SIS members Peter Holúbek and Iveta Šimová, who write in the Gorilla file about how the sale was conducted,” said Vagovič, as quoted by TASR, who believes that the discovered link between Arpáš and Penta means nothing in and of itself in terms of evidence. “It’s about high time for Mr Kováčik to stop obstructing the case and give consent to have key witnesses from the intelligence community questioned.”

Arpáš told that shortly after he left SIS, he was contacted by Penta co-owner Jaroslav Haščák with an offer. In late September 2006, Arpáš, together with his spouse, founded the company Identita and a few days later signed an agreement on cooperation with Barkont that lasted a year and half. Arpáš told the website that he was communicating only with Alojz Lorenc, a former director of the communist-era secret police ŠtB, who worked for the financial group.

Disclaimer: Penta financial group has a 45-share in Petit Press, the co-owner of The Slovak Spectator.

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