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Sentences for organised crime group’s members cancelled

Parents of one of the victims consider turning to the Constitutional Court in connection with the decision of Supreme Court Judge Štefan Harabin to dismiss life sentences.

Štefan Harabin(Source: SME)

The senate led by former Supreme Court president Štefan Harabin issued a verdict in favour of the organised crime group Sýkorovci on July 7.

He thus ignored the opinion of the penal collegium and did not decide on the complaints of alleged bias. Judges and prosecutors are confused by such behaviour and do not understand how it could happen in a state that follows the principles of the rule of law, the Denník N daily reported.

The Sýkorovci case

The Specialised Criminal Court sentenced Ivan Cupper to life in prison for murdering several members of the Diničovci group, but it is possible he will be released in September, at the end of the five-year period of his custody.

This could happen despite the past objections of several Supreme Court justices and the differing opinions of two other senates. Harabin has ignored these and issued his own verdicts, Denník N wrote.

In addition to Cupper, other members of the Sýkorovci gang accused of committing several murders include Róbert Lališ (also known as Kýbel), Jozef Roháč, Martin Bihari and Alojz Kromka. Lališ, Cupper and Roháč were given life sentences last year, while Kromka, who was also sentenced, had already been given a life sentence for another case. Bihari was sentenced to 23 years in prison.

Read also: Read also:Supreme Court Judge Harabin released extremism suspect

The verdict, however, was dismissed by Harabin’s senate in February 2017 on the grounds that another senate should decide on the punishments because the original one was biased. This ruling has already been criticised by judges, Denník N wrote.

The Specialised Criminal Court reconsidered the case in late April 2017 and issued the same sentences. The defendants immediately appealed the ruling. In response, Peter Kysel of the Special Prosecutor’s Office and attorney Daniel Lipšic, who represents the parents of the murdered Roman Deák, submitted complaints against Harabin and his senate, claiming bias, according to the daily.

Though it was expected that Harabin’s senate and the other Supreme Court senate would decide on the complaints, this has not happened. On July 7 Harabin’s senate cancelled the sentences against the members of the Sýkorovci gang and ordered that the case be decided by the Banská Bystrica Regional Court.

What are the responses?

Judges, prosecutors and lawyers contacted by Denník N said they do not understand how this can happen. Some say that General Prosecutor Jaromír Čižnár should become involved and decide whether Harabin has abused his powers.

Moreover, Supreme Court President Daniela Švecová, Justice Minister Lucia Žitňanská and the Judicial Council should consider submitting a motion to the disciplinary senate, Denník N reported.

Deák’s parents said they may turn to the Constitutional Court in connection with the verdict of Harabin’s senate, Lipšic wrote on his Facebook profile.

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