182543 12/12/2008 8:06 08BRATISLAVA580 Embassy Bratislava CONFIDENTIAL 08BRATISLAVA336|08BRATISLAVA524 VZCZCXYZ0002 PP RUEHWEB DE RUEHSL #0580/01 3470806 ZNY CCCCC ZZH P 120806Z DEC 08 FM AMEMBASSY BRATISLAVA TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2181 INFO RUEHBM/AMEMBASSY BUCHAREST 1827 RUEHUP/AMEMBASSY BUDAPEST 0980 RUEHMO/AMEMBASSY MOSCOW 0699 RUEHPG/AMEMBASSY PRAGUE 4172 RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS RUEAWJA/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHDC RUEKDIA/DIA WASHDC RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC RHEFHLC/HOMELAND SECURITY CENTER WASHINGTON DC RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC C O N F I D E N T I A L BRATISLAVA 000580
STATE FOR EUR/CE, INL/C; JUSTICE FOR OP-DAT
E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/08/2018 TAGS: PREL, PGOV, KCRM, LO SUBJECT: SLOVAK PROSECUTORS UNDER PRESSURE
REF: A) BRATISLAVA 524 B) BRATISLAVA 336
Classified By: Charge Keith Eddins, for reasons 1.4 b and d
1.(C) Summary: In a December 8 meeting with Charge, Slovak General Prosecutor Dobrislav Trnka described the "uncertain state of the judiciary," as cause for concern. He referred, among other things, to Justice Minister Harabin's efforts to abolish the Special Court and his attempts to weaken the criminal code. Without mentioning Harabin by name, Trnka lamented that politicians were playing an unhelpful and destabilizing role in the law enforcement and judicial sectors. Trnka described his office as overwhelmed and understaffed to deal with renascent organized crime in Slovakia.
2. (C) Trnka regretted that his proposal to Parliament to broaden the mandate of the Special Court (something the Special Court has also sought) to include organized crime had been rejected, and acknowledged that the court's future hinged on an upcoming decision of the Constitutional Court. Trnka requested greater cooperation with the U.S., particularly in terms of training for young prosecutors and technical equipment. Regarding the Hedviga Malinova case (reftel a), Trnka said the "investigation" was all but complete, but cited Malinova's unwillingness to submit to a lie detector test in Slovakia as a factor in its final disposition. End Summary
The Shadow of Politics (and Harabin)
3. (C) Trnka claimed that "politics" was hampering the smooth functioning of law enforcement and the judiciary in Slovakia. The struggle against organized crime and corruption must be systematic and consistent, but this was not possible in Slovakia because Justice Minister Harabin (ref b) is trying to change everything that his predecessor had put in place, e.g. the Special Court against corruption and a strengthened criminal code. This situation was creating insecurity for law enforcement bodies, which are already stretched thin in their efforts to deal with a renascent organized crime threat that involves Balkan gangs, drugs and human trafficking. (Trnka asserted that Russian-speaking mafia is not particularly active in Slovakia.) Trnka claimed that organized crime, not corruption, is the most serious problem in Slovakia because while petty corruption may be rampant, organized crime leads to instances of "state corruption," which can be measured in "millions, not thousands."
4. (C) The General Prosecutor criticized Harabin for attempting to amend the current criminal code, under the guise that is contains "non-democratic" elements, so as to weaken a variety of prosecutorial tools, including undercover operations, "crown" witnesses, and wiretapping. Harabin also seeks to reduce prison sentences for repeat, serious offenders and limit the duration of investigations in certain cases to six months. Trnka noted that his staff of 6 prosecutors is capable, but overwhelmed by the workload.
5. (C) He regrets that Parliament rejected his proposal to increase the mandate of the Special Court to deal with organized crime. (Note: the Special Court deals with organized crime figures in the case of certain crimes, but not with organized crime, per se). Trnka was scathing in his assessment of the Constitutional Court, hinting that its decision might not be favorable given that only three judges on the Constitutional Court have any criminal law experience, and several of the judges have no judicial or prosecutorial experience whatsoever. Noting that several prosecutors and the head of the Special Court had just returned from an IV program in the U.S., Trnka made a pitch for additional training/exchange opportunities for Slovak prosecutors. He also cited the need to bolster technical capabilities.
6. (C) In response to Charge's request for an update on the Hedviga Malinova case, Trnka said it was unfortunate such as "banal" case had been politicized. That politicization had created doubts about the original investigation and thus Trnka had assigned an entirely new team to review the case. The investigation, which has been most focused on Malinova's actions and statements, is, according to Trnka, finished. He said he is only awaiting a report from the medical faculty. (Comment: Trnka did not specify further, but we infer a committee of physicians has been asked to review the abundant medical file regarding Malinova's injuries.)
7. (C) At once praising and criticizing Malinova's lawyer, Roman Kwasnica, Trnka claimed that although he an excellent attorney, he used the media as a tool in his defense. Trnka -- in an account that differs markedly from that of Kwasnica -- claims that it was Kwasnica who, through the press, made the request that Malinova and the two suspected attackers take a lie detector test. However, Malinova's "request" to take the test overseas was unacceptable to the GOS. Trnka said it must be done in Slovakia, although he would permit foreign experts to be present. (Update: On December 11, Embassy learned that the General Prosecutor's office had sent a letter to Malinova dated December 10, informing that a U.S. "expert" had agreed to come to Slovakia to conduct a lie detector test on her.)
8. (C) Trnka also stated that the results of a lie detector test taken by two suspects indicate that they had nothing to do with the incident. Trnka concluded that he would not, therefore, initiate prosecution against the two individuals. If Malinova submitted to a test in Slovakia which indicated that she were telling the truth, he would drop the perjury charges against her even though, according to Trnka, there remain inconsistencies in aspects of her account and physical evidence that calls it into question.
Rohac -- A Case Study?
9. (C) Charge also inquired about the recent arrest in Prague of a wanted underworld figure, Jozef Rohac. Rohac, a Slovak, is believed to have committed a variety of serious crimes -- including murder -- in Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Hungary. The Czech Courts have agreed to extradite Rohac to Hungary, and the Charge asked whether Slovak investigators would participate in the investigation, given that Rohac is suspected of the 1996 murder of Robert Remias, a figure caught up in the 1995 kidnapping of then-Slovak President Kovac's son. Although Trnka didn't allude to the Remias case, he characterized Rohac as the worst (most dangerous, most effective) Slovak mafioso and told us that Slovak investigators were engaged in the investigation.
10. (C) Although the investigation into the Remias case has continued (on and off) since the 1990,s, it was halted this fall. A spokesperson for the Regional Prosecutor,s office in Bratislava told the press on September 30 that, simply put, "all the known evidence in the Remias case has been exhausted, and we cannot say that a specific person committed this. As soon as there are new facts that can allow the investigation to continue, it will."
11. (C) Comment and Conclusion. Trnka clearly sought to convey the image of a dedicated public servant doing his best in a tough job, despite meddling and incompetent politicians. We believe there is a degree of truth to this picture. But,Trnka's attempt to limit the independence of the Special Prosecutor (septel); his inexplicable statements regarding the legality of what appears to be a patently illegal and corrupt deal to construct a dump in the middle of a town (septel), and his association with a shadowy businessman, Marian Kocner -- who has ties to both the Malinova case and the dump scandal -- raise questions about his independence and judgment. One of Trnka's greatest public dilemmas remains that of the Malinova case. Since PM Fico and Interior Minister Kalinak publicly accused Malinova of fabricating the attack, he would be hard-pressed to preside over any resolution that would directly contradict those statements.
12. (C) Questions about Trnka aside, Embassy Bratislava believes it is enormously important to support, where possible, dedicated prosecutors and judges, and we will be reaching out to Washington agencies with specific requests related to training. One idea which comes to mind is ethics training for judges or the sort of seminar that Justice Department lawyers recently conducted in Riga on the importance of plea bargaining. Although USAID and OPDAT support for rule of law programs has evaporated since Slovakia's EU accession, EU institutions have not filled what appears to be a growing need, i.e., the preservation and strengthening of Slovakia's judicial and law enforcement sectors. In the meantime, renewed provision of U.S. expertise and greater cooperation could make a difference. EDDINS