Slovak former premier Robert Fico faces criminal charges

Former Prime Minister Robert Fico is facing facing criminal charges in Slovakia, police said Wednesday.

Police said in a brief statement that Fico’s former interior minister, Robert Kalinak, has been also charged in the same case. Police didn’t immediately offer any other details.

Their attorney, David Lindtner, said they have been charged with creating a criminal group.

Prime Minister Eduard Heger said he hoped the decision to charge Fico and Kalinak was supported by evidence. He said that it was an autonomous decision by law enforcement authorities.

Fico is currently a lawmaker for his leftist opposition Smer-Social Democracy party. Police haven’t yet asked parliament to waive immunity rules and allow his detention.

Kalinak currently works as a lawyer.

Lindtner said they consider the charges politically motivated.

“We consider it a political attack on the representatives of the opposition,” Lindtner told Slovak media.

Fico was expected to react at a news conference later Wednesday.

The current four-party coalition government made the fight against corruption a key policy issue. Since it took power after the 2020 general election, a number of senior officials, police officers, judges, prosecutors, politicians and business people have been charged with corruption and other crimes.

Fico, considered a populist politician, served as the prime minister between 2006-2010 and again again from 2012-2018.

He resigned after the 2018 slayings of an investigative journalist, Jan Kuciak, and his fiancee, Martina Kusnirova.

Kuciak had been investigating possible government corruption when he was killed. The killings prompted major street protests unseen since the 1989 Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia and a political crisis that led to the government’s collapse.

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