The government’s decision to overturn the amnesties blocking investigation of the 1995 Michal Kováč Jr. kidnapping may go down as one of the most constructive political decisions in this country’s short history.
Many Slovaks will suspect the cabinet’s motives – why now? what are they trying to hide? – and of course parliament first has to find a two-thirds majority in favor before the kidnapping case can proceed. And even if the police do get another time at bat, and witnesses haven’t forgotten what they saw, and the court cases aren’t delayed by scheming lawyers, and the judges do rule fairly and promptly, and the statute of limitations isn’t found to have expired – even then, it may be that none of the alleged kidnappers get sent to jail. Anyone who lives in this country and has seen how the justice system operates knows better than to expect the law to be enforced when it has been broken by politicians.
If the tale of the Kováč Jr. kidnapping is thoroughly exposed, we may finally be able to have a public conversation in this country about who really wields the power, and to what ends.
No longer will former SIS boss Ivan Lexa be able to live an untroubled existence at his horse ranch in Pezinok, hobnobbing with rich friends and sneering at the rest of us; many of the court verdicts he has won since being returned from his South African hideout will be erased. And new ones may not prove so easy to buy or influence.
The thugs who allegedly carried out the kidnapping – including former SIS agent Michal Hrbáček and former policeman Ľuboš Kosík – may also warrant another look. Not only at their alleged roles in the heist, but also at their wider activities these past 20 years, both legal and illegal. Because a serious police investigation, one that uncovers solid evidence as to how the kidnapping was organized, will again force us to consider the links between politics and organized crime. And how the state for two decades conspired to obscure these ties.
No less important, we will finally be able to honor the loss of Anna Remiášová, whose son was slain in 1996 apparently to help obscure the identities of the kidnappers. A full investigation of Róbert Remiáš’ assassination will lay bare the relationship between underworld thugs and the secret service during the 1990s, and the extent to which these thugs parlayed muscle and dirty work into tidbits from the privatization feast.
In short, if the amnesties that have muzzled the truth for so long are actually overturned, it will go a long way towards healing the paralysis that still afflicts public morals in Slovakia. No longer will we be forced to declare of gangsters and thugs, there go innocent men.
Who knows, perhaps it will improve our discernment regarding current politicians as well.