Marian Janušek and Igor Štefanov are historically the first Slovak ex-ministers – or top politicians in general – to go to prison for deeds committed during their terms in office. The Specialised Criminal Court in Pezinok sentenced them to long prison terms on October 18, the Sme daily wrote. The court found that they deliberately gave the advantage to a group of contractors, bypassing due processes in public procurement.
Janušek received 12 years and Štefanov nine years with minimum security. Moreover, they have been banned from working with public bodies for five years with a financial penalty of €30,000 for both.
“This is not about Janušek,” Janušek reacted shortly after the verdict was read, as quoted by Sme. “They want to sentence an ex-minister, to show that the Slovak Republic is fighting corruption.”
He added that he would appeal the verdict, which he considers unjust.
Štefanov did not attend the court session.
What happened and who are the others involved
The three ministerial officers charged alongside the ex-ministers, Zdenka Kudláčova, Tomáš Labay and Radoslav Behul, were acquitted by the court. Out of the three, only Behul came to hear the verdict, commenting that he was satisfied. He also admitted that the others should have been prosecuted in the case. Behul noted that the other officers, like him, should learn a lesson from the case, as reported by Sme.
The case goes back to 2007 and is described as one of the biggest scandals of Robert Fico’s first government (2006-2010). It involved the announcement of a €120 million tender for supplying the former Construction Ministry with various legal and advertising services, co-financed by EU funds. The call for applicants was placed only on a bulletin board in a corridor at the ministry, then under the remit of the Slovak National Party (SNS).
The tender was won by the only bidder, a consortium of companies including Zamedia and Avocat, both businesses with links to former SNS party leader Ján Slota. The co-founder of Zamedia, Vladimír Tretina, had known Slota for a long time, and the co-owners of Avocat appeared in state companies as SNS nominees.