Harabin – former justice minister and former chair of the Judicial Council and Supreme Court – has thrown out a case perceived as a pilot project in the fight against extremism. Since January, the court has applied more stringent rules to cases involving suspected displays of extremism.
According to new rules, the Specialized Criminal Court is dealing with these cases, and the Supreme Court is acting as the court of appeals.
After an attack on a foreign student with dark skin in Banská Bystrica this February, the alleged attacker was charged and placed in pre-trial custody. Harabin released the man following an appeal and questioned the entire case, the Sme daily wrote on July 10.
Harabin argued that the evidence had been collected in an unlawful way and therefore cannot be included in the file. He also deemed testimonies against the alleged extremist unusable and dismissed as unimportant the information that when the Frenchman and his friends first entered the bar, someone made the “heil” salute. The evidence cannot support a clear image of who provoked the fight, Harbin said. The testimonies of foreigners accompanying the victim required a translator.
Investigation, charge and appeal
Police did not interrogate any other guests, who may have shed some light on the events in the Banská Bystrica bar.
Harabin pointed out that the 31-year-old man charged in the case, identified as Peter P., was also injured in the confrontation. He said that the testimonies of the victim’s three friends were nearly identical and therefore untrustworthy. He said these testimonies, as well as the fact that he suspect had “liked” the Facebook page of Slovak Revivalist Movement, which unites supporters of the Slovak wartime totalitarian state, constituted unusable information.
Harabin also openly criticises measures against extremism and on July 6 wrote a Facebook status that “the most fascistic (President Andrej) Kiska with the corrupt media and politicians rudely calls for the fight against extremism”.
Slovak fight against extremism
Since stricter rules for judging cases of extremism were introduced this year, the Specialised Criminal Court has issued one valid verdict in a case of extremism. On June 23 the court granted a 10-year suspended sentence following a plea bargain. The 20-month prison sentence following an April attack against a black man in Pezinok is not yet valid. In June, the Special Prosecutor’s Office acquitted a man who had been charged for making the “heil” salute in front of the police on March 14, the anniversary of the rise of the Slovak wartime state. Experts in the field of extremism had first professional exams at the Justice Ministry in July. Slovakia does not yet have experts for this topic, Sme wrote.