Handwriting expert testifies against Rusko: Signatures are from after 2013

Promissory notes case might reach the stage of final speeches this week.

Marian Kočner and Pavol Rusko at the promissory notes trial. Marian Kočner and Pavol Rusko at the promissory notes trial. (Source: Sme - Jozef Jakubco)

Pavol Rusko did not sign the promissory notes earlier than in 2013, says a handwriting expert, whose testimony is one of the key expert opinions in the case that might land Rusko and Marian Kočner in prison.

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The promissory notes trial continued on February 10 with the testimonies of two experts on handwriting, Erika Straková who analysed hundreds of signatures of Pavol Rusko's and Czech expert Milan Nouzovsky, who was called forward as a witness of the defence. Both Marian Kočner and Pavol Rusko, who stand accused of forging four promissory notes of the private television broadcaster Markíza, and using the fakes in 2016 to demand €69 million from the network, attended the 22nd day of the trial.

While Rusko and Kočner claim the promissory notes were signed in 2000, the prosecution claims the documents are antedated and were only signed in 2016.

"After everything I have found out I am certain that the signatures were made after 2013," Straková told the court in her testimony, as quoted by the Sme daily.

While the standard expert evaluation is performed based some 20 signatures, in this case she had 389 signatures of Rusko's for analysis.

"When I spoke to my foreign colleagues, nobody remembered having worked with such a large comparison sample," she said. She also noted that his signatures are rather simple, which is a bigger stress for an expert.

Kočner asked Straková many questions, whose testimony lasted for some six hours, including whether she had the weather records from the time the promissory notes were signed or who were the colleagues with whom she consulted her work.

Daniel Nouzovský, who came to testify from the Czech Republic, criticised Straková for mixing handwriting analysis with graphology. He admitted he had one original signature at his disposal and no other materials for comparison. He claimed that it is not possible to unambiguously say when the promissory notes were signed.

The trial is set to continue on Tuesday, February 11. The promissory notes case is coming to its end. The Sme daily estimates that the final speeches might be delivered as early as this week.

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