The National Criminal Agency (NAKA) has detained former interior minister Robert Kaliňák, who served in the post during the three governments led by Smer chair Robert Fico.
It also arrested lawyer Marek Para, known for defending, among others, convicted mobster Marian Kočner, the Denník N daily reported.
Kaliňák has been charged with establishing a criminal group, together with Fico. However, Fico has not been arrested yet because he is an MP, meaning the police must first seek permission from parliament to detain him.
Apart from them, also former police chief Tibor Gašpar and Nitra-based oligarch Norbert Bödör have been charged in the operation labelled as Súmrak (Twilight). The name is probably linked to the address of the Smer headquarters, the Súmračná Street.
Kaliňák, Fico, Gašpar and Bödör have been charged with the crime of a threat towards trade secret, bank secrecy, secrecy of correspondence, telecommunications secrecy and tax secrecy, the SITA newswire reported.
The case is reportedly linked to the Očistec (Purgatory) case. As part of this operation, the police detained and charged several people, including former top police representatives like Gašpar or former NAKA head Peter Hraško.
The police will provide more details in due course.
Fico and Kaliňák will be represented by lawyer David Lindtner, a former judge who is himself also accused of corruption.
Fico: This is “political vengeance”
Fico dismissed the charges as “political vengeance” and an attempt to get rid of him, saying that they are a response to criticism by him and his colleagues of the government and the president. According to Fico, everything was organised with the consent of top ruling officials.
“They literally made up a story in the accusation that I allegedly created a criminal group that was to harm [former president Andrej] Kiska, [Igor] Matovič and [Boris] Kollár,” Fico said, as quoted by the TASR newswire.
As for the charges against Kaliňák, who is now a lawyer, and Para, he said that they are an “obvious attempt” by both the National Criminal Agency (NAKA) and the Special Prosecutor’s Office to destroy the defence of suspects facing corruption-related charges, including Nitra-based oligarch Norbert Bödör, ex-police chief Tibor Gašpar and tycoon Miroslav Výboh.