Judge speaks up against the prosecution of prosecutor

Charges were pressed for a deed that obviously does not show signs of the charged crime and charges were pressed “too easily”, Judge Peter Šamko writes. The General Prosecutor calls his statement unprofessional.

Protests against Interior Minister Kaliňák.Protests against Interior Minister Kaliňák. (Source: Sme - Jozef Jakubčo)

ACCUSING prosecutor Vasiľ Špirko was nonsense and ungrounded, the opposition says in another development pertaining to the case against the interior minister whom the opposition wants to resign for allegedly covering up tax fraud involving businessman Ladislav Bašternák.

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The National Crime Agency (NAKA) accused prosecutor of the Special Prosecutor’s Office Špirko of abusing his powers, the first time ever for such an elite prosecutor to be accused. The Denník N daily broke the story on July 26.

“Any legal considerations” are absent from the resolution on criminal prosecution, opposition OLaNO-NOVA MP Daniel Lipšic told a press conference on August 4. The former interior minister claims that Špirko has been accused because he is a prosecutor who wants to investigate tax-related crimes and someone wanted to stop him. They also wanted to take a look at the evidence that he has gathered in the case.

Špirko is overseeing the investigation of Interior Minister Robert Kaliňák and his purchase of a share in the BA Haus company from Bašternák, however, the criminal prosecution that the prosecutor faces is not related to that case.

But there’s also another reason why Špirko has been accused, according to Lipšic: to frighten investigators and prosecutors and discourage them from looking into “sensitive issues”.

Judge Šamko speaks up against accusation

Lipšic also referred to the critical comments that Judge Peter Šamko published on the pravnelisty.sk website with regard to the NAKA resolution to start criminal prosecution of prosecutor Špirko.  

“The resolution interests me as former prosecutor, since the fact that charges were pressed for a deed that obviously does not show signs of the charged crime is remarkable, as well as the fact that the charges were pressed “too easily”,” Šamko writes.

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Šamko also published the full text of the resolution about pressing charges against Špirko for abusing the powers of a public official.

Špirko, however, does not face prosecution for the Bašternák case, but rather for the case of businessman Ľuboš Varga who also faces accusations of tax fraud.

Varga, accused of VAT fraud, also testified in front of prosecutor Špirko, but later on filed a criminal complaint against the prosecutor claiming that his attorney was not present and he wasn’t aware of what he was signing.

“NAKA trusts a tax fraudster more than an elite prosecutor,” Lipšic charged as quoted by the SITA newswire.

The NAKA resolution on pressing charges against Špirko, however, suggests that Špirko was leading informal talks with Varga, in which the latter revealed some information about other people’s economic criminal activities. Based on information from Varga, Špirko wrote a criminal complaint and then tried to force the businessman to sign the complaint. On July 15, Varga reported that to the police and a few days later the police accused the prosecutor.

Yet Judge Šamko claims that if this was what happened, it cannot be classified as abuse of powers because there is no element of power or decision-making present in the case. Also a possible intention to cause harm to someone or bring profit to himself is not present in Špirko’s actions, Šamko wrote. He admits the actions could have constituted an interference with Varga’s rights, but only in the event the criminal complaint that Špirko wrote and wanted Varga to sign was false. On the other hand, if the suspicions of criminal activities were true, it was Špirko’s duty to report it, Šamko stated.

Unprofessional, says GP

The General Prosecutor’s Office spoke against Šamko’s analysis and called his statement unprofessional.

They give several reasons for that, including that Šamko is making statements about a resolution that he is legally not supposed to have at his disposal because he is not the subject of the criminal prosecution.

Šamko claims that Špirko gave him the resolution and agreed to have it published.

The GPO also argues that Šamko does not have knowledge about the entire case file, and such a statement is not objective and misleading.

By making a public statement about the case which falls under a district court subordinate to the Bratislava Regional Court, where Šamko works, the judge runs a risk that his objectivity might be questioned.

“We consider the statement of a judge of the Bratislava Regional Court an expression influenced by current political events,” the statement reads.

Neither the head of the regional court nor the Justice Ministry commented on Šamko’s analysis when addressed by the Sme daily on August 5.

Who is Judge Šamko

Šamko, who is 40 years old, has worked for the Bratislava Regional Court since 2013 and is a member of the appellate senate, the Sme daily reported.

He came to the regional court from the Pezinok District Court. Prior to that, between 2002 and 2008 he worked at the prosecutor’s office in Bratislava as the head of the penal and fight against organised crime department, back then led by the current General Prosecutor Jaromír Čižnár.

Šamko is also a member of the standing working commission of the government’s Legislative Council and lectures at the Judicial Academy, mainly about economic criminality, Sme wrote.

Šamko regularly publishes analyses of publicised cases that the prosecution or the courts are dealing with on the pravnelisty.sk portal.

With press reports. 

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