The Prosecutor General’s Office has been looking into 36 criminal files related to self-employed farmers. As Prosecutor General Jaromír Čižnár said at a news conference on July 16, errancies were detected in 10 cases and the office ordered criminal prosecution in nine.
It was the double murder of Ján Kuciak and his partner Martina Kušnírová, that pointed to fraud in agriculture subsidies.
Čižnár considers it strange that the same people kept appearing in the projects under examination. These cases are not only located in eastern Slovakia but are starting to affect the whole country.
“People in these regions don’t trust the police officers connected to these cases, and I don’t blame them,” said Čižnár, as cited by the TASR newswire, stressing that if a public prosecutor doesn’t detect a police officer’s mistake, he’s clearly failing to do his duty.
Of the 36 files examined, not a single one primarily examined or checked for subsidy machinations.
“It may sound quite positive but that’s not the case,” said Čižnár, as cited by the SITA newswire. “I don’t get one thing: if someone had proceeded in detail, they would have found that somewhere behind it all, there are suspicions of subsidy fraud.”
Čižnár believes that if the Slovak Land Fund, the Agriculture Payment Agency (PPA), and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development did their job, the Office of the Prosecutor General would have nothing to deal with.
First Deputy Prosecutor General Peter Šufliarsky elaborated that the Prosecutor General’s Office found the unlawful action of a police member who dismissed a case and the subsequent endorsement of this decision by a supervising prosecutor documented in three files. This means that not only the policeman but also the prosecutor as supervisor of the case, was in error.
“I have the feeling that some prosecutors in the east of Slovakia follow their own conscience and opinion and not the valid legislation,” said Čižnár. “This is a mistake.”
Čižnár announced that he would again talk with Agriculture Minister Gabriela Matečná about the findings. In particular, he wants to tackle the system of control at the Agriculture Payment Agency.
“The supervisory system at the Agricultural Payment Agency is absolutely insufficient, and that’s a systemic flaw,” said Čižnár, as cited by the TASR newswire. He added that the PPA’s supervisory system creates an environment for individuals in which they can decide outcomes without anyone’s supervision.
16. Jul 2018 at 22:02 | Compiled by Spectator staff