Former interior minister Robert Kaliňák (Smer) considers accusations that he gave direct orders in the abduction of Vietnamese businessman and ex-communist official, Trinh Xuan Thanh, misleading and absurd.
He said so after the August 9 special session of the parliamentary defence and security committee, also attended by the current interior minister, Denisa Saková (Smer).
Originally, part of the session was to be public. However, the committee members approved Kaliňák’s proposal to hold the whole session behind closed doors, the SITA newswire reported.
Denník N is lying, ex-minister said
The partial results of the investigation suggest that Slovakia was unintentionally involved in the whole operation of the Vietnamese intelligence service, Kaliňák, who now serves as the ordinary member of the parliament, said. The Denník N daily, which published a story about the direct involvement of Slovakia in the kidnapping on August 2, is lying and publishing unverified statements without any evidence, he added.Abduction: Vietnamese representatives in Slovakia remain silent Read more
“The anti-governmental Denník N published a story without any proof, based on some anonymous testimonies that we have disproved,” Kaliňák said, as quoted by SITA. “It’s a clear attempt to politicise the case.”
Slovakia’s law enforcement bodies, meanwhile, launched the investigation into the case on August 3, after the journalist working for Denník N submitted a criminal motion.
Kaliňák opines that there was no reason for police to act beyond the law.
“We had no information about the involvement of the Slovak governmental special plane or that we had been fooled by the Vietnamese,” he said, as quoted by SITA.
The German investigators heard the airport employees and employees of the Bôrik hotel, where Kaliňák, then acting as the interior minister, met with the Vietnamese delegation. They did not give Slovak authorities any reason to become involved, the ex-minister added.
Kaliňák seemed nervous
As for the proposal to close the session, Kaliňák explained it is hard to distinguish what information is confidential and what is not.Abduction: Kaliňák took a polygraph test Read more
“I proposed it in order to let MPs have complete information from the minister who would otherwise not be able to talk in detail,” he explained, as quoted by SITA.
Non-affiliated MP Miroslav Beblavý commented that even after hearing the information concerning the abduction, it is hard to clearly say whether the Slovak authorities knew about it or not.
Moreover, Kaliňák seemed to be nervous during the session.
“Mr Kaliňák said today that we did not knowingly participate in the kidnapping, but that the possibility of unwitting collaboration cannot be ruled out,” Beblavý said, as quoted by SITA.
Saková did not persuade Galko
It is necessary to wait for the results of the whole investigation, Saková said after the session.
“We don’t investigate the whole case,” she explained, as quoted by the TASR newswire, adding she has already asked the Police Corps president to find out whether there was any information about the abducted person in the Schengen Information System.Abduction: President says he does not trust the interior minister Read more
At the same time, she confirmed they will ask the information system’s administrator to confirm whether this information can be searched in their database.
Meanwhile, the Slovak investigation will be supervised by the general prosecutor and several prosecutors from the regional prosecutor’s office in Bratislava, the interior minister said.
Saková has rejected claims that Kaliňák still leads the ministry.
Responding to her performance in front of the committee, Ľubomír Galko of Freedom and Solidarity (SaS) said he has not persuaded him.
“The special session of the committee has persuaded me that the Slovak state bodies, including ex-interior minister Kaliňák, knew about what Vietnamese want to do in Slovakia,” Galko said, as quoted by TASR. “I'm not saying they knew about all the details. But after today’s session, my suspicions are close to certainty.”
Only a tiny bit of confidential information was revealed at the session. Moreover, it concerned mostly some procedural steps carried out in the past, conducted by Germans in the present. Little was said about whether Slovak state bodies were involved in the abduction or not, Galko added.
Police inspectorate involved
Meanwhile, the Sme daily reported that the investigation is being carried out by the police inspectorate running under the Interior Ministry. This indicates that the culprits will be searched mostly among the police officers who could only follow the instructions of their superiors, as the daily pointed out.
“The suspicions lead to the Police Corps ranks,” Deputy General Prosecutor Peter Šufliarsky confirmed, as quoted by Sme.
However, if the testimonies of police officers and other witnesses confirm that Kaliňák was involved, there will not be much the police inspectorate can do. It would have to move the case to the police or the National Criminal Agency, former head of investigators Jaroslav Ivor told Sme.