Court sentenced MP’s assistant for hacking account of former interior minister

Filip Rybanič received a conditional sentence and has to apologise to Robert Kaliňák.

Rybanič leaving the court, September 25, 2018.Rybanič leaving the court, September 25, 2018. (Source: TASR)

Assistant to MP Jozef Rajtár (opposition Freedom and Solidarity-SaS), Filip Rybanič, was found guilty of jeopardising trade, banking, postal, telecommunication and tax secrets on September 25. He was also given three years of suspended sentence with five years of probation by the Bratislava V District Court, the TASR newswire wrote.

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Read also: Rybanič: I have some fears I may go to prison Read more 

Rybanič is also required to apologise publicly to ex-interior minister Robert Kaliňák (Smer) and is banned from working at institutions dealing with banking secrets for five years. The sentence is not valid yet and the defendant will appeal it.

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Reactions of the defending party

“I respect the decision of the court, although I don’t agree with it," he commented for TASR. “We’ll file an appeal.”

“We don’t concur with the decision in question and consider a number of issues disputable, naming them very clearly,” his lawyer, Marek Para, added. “Therefore, we lodged an appeal.”

The MP’s assistant intends to forward the case to the European Court of Justice residing in Luxembourg.

Read also: Witness from the Kaliňák case about interrogation: I was terrified Read more 

MP Rajtár criticises the lawsuit – as quoted by TASR – as the judge perceived the defendant as guilty from the very beginning. “She called Filip a perpetrator from day one,” commented the deputy who disavowed the notion of him encouraging his assistant to commit a crime. Rajtár also refused to testify. “As a lawmaker, I have the right not to testify; the whole process has been a witch-hunt since the beginning,” he claimed, adding that the legal proceedings resembled those seen in third-world countries. Rajtár finds it absurd for ex-minister Kaliňák to pose as the aggrieved party in public.

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What happened in 2016?

According to the information in the media, Rybanič, as an employee of a commercial bank, hacked the bank account of then-interior minister Kaliňák two years ago and leaked banking transactions in his account and the account of former transport minister Ján Počiatek (also Smer), exposing connections to entrepreneur Ladislav Bašternák, a tax fraud suspect. This caused an earthquake on the political scene. Rybanič also looked into the account of shady businessman Marian Kočner.

Read also: Scandal persists as Kaliňák leaves questions unanswered Read more 

The media also published information, according to which the B.A. Haus company, legally represented by Bašternák until October 2013, sent €260,000 to Kaliňák’s account, the Sme daily wrote on September 25.

Flawed investigation

The National Criminal Agency (NAKA) detained Rybanič on June 10, 2016.

SaS MPs see several flaws in the investigation, Sme suggests: police searched Rajtár’s home unlawfully, as they failed to duly argue it, ending in a fiasco, SaS politicians say.

Police seized all recording devices from Rybanič, including MP Rajtár’s computer, USB flash drives, and phones. Later, they used the conversation recordings on mobile phones but misinterpreted who communicated with him. Thus, they came to the conclusion that Rybanič had been controlled by someone in the background.

Read also: No investigation into Kaliňák’s shares from Bašternák Read more 

“They summoned the wrong person and interrogated them,” Rajtár summed up, according to Sme. “Then it turned out it was all a misunderstanding.” The MP adds that transmission devices were scrutinised by someone who has no authority to do so; several were returned to him damaged and unusable.

Those in power strike back

Opposition parties wanted to remove interior minister Kaliňák, accusing him of not being able to clearly explain the origins of his wealth. But the no-confidence vote in parliament, in December 2017, failed to gain enough votes.

Police have not even started investigating the business deals between Kaliňák and Bašternák, arguing they do not have enough evidence.

Kaliňák has been claiming the whole time, Sme wrote, that instead of Rybanič, Rajtár should have been tried. He thus hinted that Rajtár incited his assistant to commit this. Rybanič still works for Rajtár, with a monthly salary of €2,077.

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