Justice Minister Maria Kolikova (For the People) reported on Thursday that she will aim to limit paragraph 363 of the Penal Code, which enables the Prosecutor-General's Office to annul decisions made by prosecutors and the police. The minister stated this in reaction to the fact that the PG's Office on Tuesday dropped the charges against ex-Slovak Intelligence Service (SIS) head Vladimir Pcolinsky, a decision which Kolikova described as "unfortunate". "I saw the case and I came to the conclusion that it would be better if [Pcolinsky] was criminally prosecuted. Obviously, I and the PG's Office have different opinions on this," replied Kolikova when asked whether the leadership of the PG's Office enjoys her confidence. According to Justice Minister, her aim to limit the paragraph also stems from the Government Manifesto. "An amendment would define decisions for which the paragraph wouldn't apply," she explained.
If the Prosecutor-General will not have the power to annul the decisions of prosecutors and police investigators, he will be reduced to the role of a passive observer, Prosecutor-General Maros Zilinka claimed in his press statement on Thursday. He responded in this way to the declared intent of several politicians to strip the Prosecutor-General of the power, with which Zilinka withdrew charges against ex-secret service (SIS) head Vladimir Pcolinsky, ex-secret service head Lubomir Arpas, Arpas' wife and the co-owner of Penta financial group Jaroslav Hascak. At the time of its formation, the government included the plan to revise the disputed paragraph 363 in its Manifesto. The Penal Code enables the Prosecutor-General to scrap decisions by investigators and prosecutors that are in effect, if such decisions violate the law. No appeal is possible against such interventions. "This is the only institute the Prosecutor-General has at his or her disposal to redress the unlawful state," warned Zilinka.
The decision of the Prosecutor-General's Office to drop the charges against ex-Slovak Intelligence Service (SIS) head Vladimir Pcolinsky raises legitimate doubts and there are reasons to assume that the PG's Office exceeded the scope of its powers in some instances, the Special Prosecutor's Office (USP) stated in its legal analysis of the ruling on Thursday.
The Special Prosecutor's Office Peter Kysel pointed to the fact that the PG's Office made the ruling after the investigation was finished but before the Special Prosecutor's Office managed to file an indictment, and thus it substituted courts and assessed the facts in the case differently than the investigator, overseeing prosecutor and courts that previously made rulings regarding Pcolinsky's custody.
Prosecutor-General Maros Zilinka on Thursday rejected claims that he had arbitrarily annulled the charges against former secret service (SIS) head Vladimir Pcolinsky, and he lambasted politicians for making such allegations against him. Speaking at a press conference, Zilinka emphasised that he would not be intimidated or pushed into decisions by politicians, the media or anyone else.
It is in order to call on relevant authorities to thoroughly explain all contentious issues, the coalition OLaNO party stated on Thursday in reaction to Prosecutor-General Maros Zilinka.
Meanwhile, the coalition We Are Family party announced that it agrees with Zilinka. "If a politician comments on a decision of the PG's Office without knowing the reasons behind the move, it only contributes to upsetting the public," the party's press department told TASR press agency. Freedom and Solidarity (SaS) MP Alojz Baranik remarked that Zilinka's press conference on Thursday did not contribute to increasing the public's trust in the rule of law, but, on the contrary, it deepened doubts in it even further. "[His] attacks on politicians and [the decision of the PG's Office] to allow only selected media to attend the press conference only confirmed this," said Baranik. As for the coalition For the People party, its head Veronika Remisova stated that her comments regarding the matter are not meant to be understood as personal remarks concerning Zilinka, but as comments on the necessity of carrying out systematic changes to the prosecution service, which the coalition has agreed on.
The extra-parliamentary Voice-SD party has stated in response to Prosecutor-General Maros Zilinka's press conference on Thursday that he has correctly understood his mission as prosecutor-general, which is to oversee compliance with the law and "not to follow instructions from the government and its lackeys". Meanwhile, the extra-parliamentary Most-Hid party lambasted the PG for the fact that his office allowed only selected media to attend the press conference. "A press conference by the PG isn't a corporate party," the party remarked.