Tensions between several police forces culminated in the accusation of Police President Petr Kovařík of obstructing justice. The Minister of the Interior, Roman Mikulec (OĽaNO), who appointed him to the position, is not yet considering dismissing Kovařík. I do not think that President Kovařík has thwarted any police action, nor do I think that he has abused the authority of a public official, the minister claims.
Therefore, he does not plan to place Kovařík out of service yet. However, Mikulca is awaiting an appeal in parliament on Monday and does not yet have some support for the entire coalition.
Kovařík is accused of the crime of abuse of power by a public official in parallel with the crime of obstructing justice. According to the Bratislava Regional Prosecutor’s Office, the ongoing detention intervention, as well as the execution of the following criminal proceedings with the accused persons Matej Zeman and Peter Petrov, who are being prosecuted for manipulating the statements, were to be thwarted. Kovařík was also heard on Thursday as an accused.
VIDEO: Interior Minister Roman Mikulec on the indictment of Police President Petr Kovařík.
The police president, who faces between three and eight years in prison if he is found guilty, denies any wrongdoing. He continues to insist that the intervention of the police inspection of 20 July against the trio accused of manipulating the statements had to be checked due to the use of members of the Border and Alien Police Office from Sobranice. They were to help the inspectorate detain the former members of the Bratislava criminal group of such people – Csaba Dömötör and Matej Zeman, as well as the left-wing businessman Petr Petrov. All three act as important witnesses in many cases, and it is suspected that they have begun to fabricate testimonies for their release from custody and lesser punishment.
However, the action of the inspection, which was supposed to lead to their detention, was interrupted by the police president for about forty minutes. The initial impulse came from Mikulec, who asked Kovařík to check the circumstances of the intervention unit from eastern Slovakia.
While Dömötöra was detained during a police raid on July 20, the other two witnesses fled, and the next day they were searched. Petrov was not detained by NAKA until August 13, and Zeman is still in Croatia, where he allegedly applied for political asylum. Dömötör pleaded guilty to the offenses, for which he was sentenced on August 4 to a 32-month suspended sentence.
Justice for all?
The opposition demands that Kovařík end. “I call on the police president to resign. It is inconceivable that more than 20,000 police officers, who do their job honestly and honestly, will be led by a police president accused of the crime of obstructing justice, “said Peter Pellegrini, leader of the Hlas party and non-attached MP.
The strongest opposition party, Smer, claims that the Minister of the Interior, Roman Mikulec, instructed Kovařík to suspend the intervention, and that he should therefore be responsible. “The whole of Slovakia knows that Minister Mikulec nevertheless gave the order to suspend the intervention and obstruct justice. He himself admitted it, “said Ľuboš Blaha, the vice-president of Smer, on his profile.
Already on Tuesday, August 24, the Smer party submitted a proposal to convene an extraordinary meeting to dismiss Mikulec, signed by 31 members of parliament. The meeting should open this Monday. “The guy belongs to the prison, not to the head of the interior ministry,” Blaha added.
Representatives of the OĽaNO movement are currently defending their minister as well as his nominee. “We believe that the situation will have no effect on the anti-corruption campaign and the further fight against organized crime. Although several steps of the regional prosecutor’s office may be embarrassed by the public, we will not comment on its actions, “the movement said. Similarly, the smallest coalition party For the People, which indicates doubts about the validity of Kovařík’s accusation.
The other two coalition parties no longer express such unequivocal support to Kovařík. “If these allegations are based on at least a somewhat solid basis, the police president should temporarily cease to hold office, at least until it becomes clear what it is,” said SaS coalition chairman Richard Sulík on Friday. “Roman Mikulec can count on the support of SaS deputies and my personal support,” Sulík added.
On the contrary, the second strongest coalition party, We Are the Family, has long questioned not only Kovařík, but also Minister Mikulec himself. It is also related to the detention and accusation of their nominee at the head of the SIS and a family member of its representatives, Vladimír Pčolinský.
“People have chosen change so that justice applies to everyone equally, but we see a visible difference here,” says the We Are Family movement, which also points out that Kovařík remains in office even after the accusation. “And he has the greatest opportunity to influence cases,” he adds.
Mikulec: He has my trust
The minister is still defending his police president. He is not currently considering a motion to dismiss him. “I have no reason for that yet,” he stressed. The Police President may be removed from office by the Minister of the Interior only for serious reasons. However, the parliamentary Committee on Defense and Security must give its consent by at least a three-fifths majority of all members.
A total of 15 deputies sit on the committee, so up to 10 of them would have to vote for Kovařík’s dismissal. However, the opposition does not have so many votes in the committee. The opposition is represented in it only by the unclassified MP and former Minister of the Interior Denisa Saková from the Hlas party, the chairman of the NS NS Marian Kotleba, the unclassified Ondrej Ďurica and Peter Šuca together with Marián Saloň from Smer. On the contrary, the coalition that still supports Kovařík holds all the remaining ten seats.
Kovařík has already been called to the committee, but not yet for the purpose of his dismissal. “I decided to call the police president to discuss it. I have already been in contact with him and I have informed him that we will call him on the committee. He agreed. The question is the term of the committee, “said the chairman of the parliamentary fire safety committee Juraj Krúpa (OĽaNO). He also wants to invite the authorized head of the police inspection, Petr Scholtz. He has not yet wanted to comment further on the accusation without getting acquainted with it.
However, Mikulec also has other options. Kovařík could be temporarily placed out of the civil service. He may do so if his tenure would jeopardize the clarification of the conduct of which he is accused. Although Mikulec does not completely reject this possibility yet, it does not seem appropriate to him. The controversial intervention of the police inspection, Kovařík’s intervention in it, as well as his accusation is perceived differently. The police president thus continues to have the confidence of the minister.
“When I get acquainted in detail with the accusation, I will deal with whether there are reasons for President Kovařík to be temporarily out of public service. My view is that this is, to a certain extent, just a misinterpretation of some facts and facts. It is necessary to wait for the next procedural steps to be performed. I do not think that President Kovařík has thwarted any police action, nor do I think that he has abused the authority of a public official. But it’s just my personal opinion. Of course, he still has my trust, “stressed Mikulec.
Mikulec claims that the activities of the special team were not affected in any way by the decision of the president and Kovařík stopped only the activities of the intervention unit as one of the parts of the team. Peter Scholtz, the director of the Office of the Inspection Service of the Ministry of the Interior (ÚIS), also interprets the circumstances of the failed intervention in this way.
“From the facts known so far, as well as from written documents, it follows that the team leader is probably directly responsible for the event’s failure, and therefore all available control mechanisms of the Ministry of the Interior were activated,” Mikulec emphasized.
Diana Santusová, the head of the specialized team of the police inspection, is already responsible for the intervention. It was suspended from the case on 22 July until the validity of the doubts had been unequivocally confirmed or rebutted. Kovařík explained this in several submissions that question the activities of her specialized team. However, the team itself is said to continue the work.