Scandal Strikes at the Heart of Europe, by Brendan Oswald

Ján Kuciak | by | December 10, 2019 |

Slovakian journalist Ján Kuciak and his girlfriend, Martina Kušnírová, were killed almost two years ago. The murders were part of a state-sanctioned push to silence an investigation into government corruption.Photo: Peter Tkac.

Slovakia doesn’t usually do bloodshed, conflict, or high drama. This small country of five million at the heart of Europe has no modern history of conflict, having peacefully thrown off the shackles of communism via the Velvet Revolution.

However, Slovakia’s self-image as a peaceful, law-abiding nation has taken several shocks in the last couple of years. The country has become mired in a scandal involving embezzlement, bribery, and murder, which led to the downfall of prominent government ministers, several high court judges, a former prosecutor general, and even the prime minister.

New security clearances for judges implemented

| The Slovak Spectator | 2. Oct 2015 at 6:30  |  Radka Minarechová |

Courts struggle with a backlog of cases. Source: SME

THE FIRST set of judicial candidates that underwent controversial security clearances that came as part of a 2014 constitutional amendment, stood before the Judicial Council on September 28. 

Experts remain divided on the new measure.

The Judicial Council, the top judicial body overseeing the operation of Slovakia’s courts, checked the first 19 candidates who have already been screened by the National Security Office (NBÚ), approving 17.

“One candidate did not fulfil the conditions of judges’ competencies, while in one case we stopped the discussion and asked for additional information,” Judicial Council Chairwoman Jana Bajánková said, as quoted by the Sme daily. 

The court which nominated the failed candidate will most probably have to start a new selection process, she added, before declining to comment further citing the closed session and confidential NBÚ documents involved. 

Dana Bystrianska, head of the Association of Judges of Slovakia, says she has mixed feelings from the session. Though the candidates had been initially asked to answer questions in written form for the NBÚ questionnaire, they did so only verbally before the Judicial Council.

“It seems that there is actually a big time pressure and small space for the candidates to focus on questions in the questionnaire,” she told The Slovak Spectator.

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