Pavol Rusko, former head of the private broadcaster TV Markíza and ex-economy minister, walked into the courtroom in a seemingly good mood on May 23 although the court was supposed to decide whether he had ordered the murder of his ex-business partner Silvia Volzová in 1997.
“I cannot conclude the agreement on guilt and punishment since nothing of what you have stated ever happened,” Rusko told the senate right at the beginning, as quoted by the Sme daily, when asked if he wanted to plead guilty and thus secure a lower punishment.
Three racketeers, ex-mafia boss Mikuláš Černák, his right-hand man Miloš Kaštan and ex-boss of the organised crime group Sýkorovci, Róbert Lališ, appeared on the witness stand. They have all been charged with planning Volzová's murder, and the court wanted to hear their versions of the story.
The scandal surfaced two years ago when Černák, sentenced to life, told investigators how Rusko had offered him 20 million Slovak crowns (about €663,000) for Volzová's murder.
The hearings took two days to finish, but the verdict has not yet been announced. The case has been postponed to September 20. Volzová, who lives in Germany and feels threatened, will also be asked to attend the court, Sme wrote.
Černák, who has already spent 20 years in prison, was the first to testify against Rusko, claiming that Slovak society is not ready for a former high-ranked politician to be sentenced.
“He said it was a delicate matter,” Černák described his meeting with Rusko, as quoted by Sme. “He was alleged to have a problem with Volzová, and he did not know how to resolve it.”
Černák told Rusko back in 1997 that Volzová came from the Bratislava Region and thus asked the Bratislava-based Sýkorovci group for help. Kaštan, who was Černák's right-hand man at that time, confirmed this version in court.
They were to abduct Volzová, force her to rewrite her share in TV Markíza for Rusko and then kill her, Kaštan added. But Černák was arrested in December 1997 and did not accomplish Rusko's request, Sme reported.
Rusko met with Černák
Rusko admitted in court that he met with Černák in October or November 1997 in Banská Bystrica. He also explained that he had asked his business partner and friend Ján Kováčik, who heads the Slovak Football Association (SFZ) today, to plan the meeting and come with Černák.
“I swear he was there,” underlined Rusko, as quoted by Sme. Though, Kováčik had already denied attending the meeting.
On the other hand, Rusko went on to refute the claim that he discussed Volzová's murder at all in the meeting. Instead, he said that he met Černák to verify information on whether someone had been planning to murder him, as reported by Sme.
“I declare that I am not guilty and did not commit anything you have accused me of,” Rusko said on May 24, as quoted by Sme.
Racketeers admitted their guilt
Rusko is not the only who sees himself as blameless. Lališ, nicknamed Kýbel, also refuted the claim that he would have ever taken part in the planning of the murder, Sme wrote.
He saw Rusko three times, once during the 1997 meeting in Banská Bystrica, Lališ said in court, as reported by Sme.
However, Kaštan and Černák admitted their guilt the day before Lališ's hearing, on May 23, although the three-member senate rejected their declarations of guilt, Sme wrote.
28. May 2019 at 14:08 | Compiled by Spectator staff