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Slovak police arrested a former chief prosecutor and charged him with abuse of power in a move the president described as “breakthrough for justice” in the country’s struggle against corruption.
The arrest of Dobroslav Trnka Thursday comes two years after the gangland murder of a journalist ousted former Prime Minister Robert Fico from power. Now the euro-area nation of 5.3 million is preparing for general elections, with the fight against graft front and center in voters’ minds.
In a pre-dawn raid, police arrested Trnka, who was prosecutor general from 2004 to 2011, and charged him with abuse of power. Recordings recovered during the investigation of the murder of reporter Jan Kuciak captured Trnka discussing unrelated bribes and blackmail, including with a businessman who has been charged with ordering the hit. Trnka was not immediately available for comment.
“We need to know the truth,” President Zuzana Caputova, a former anti-graft activist lawyer who won an election last year on a campaign calling for justice for Kuciak, said on Facebook. “I hope that we will find out in a fair trial against Trnka and all the others who were collaborating with him in abusing justice.”
While Kuciak’s killing triggered the largest anti-government protests since the fall of Communism and Fico’s resignation, his Smer party is still the favorite to win the most votes in next month’s ballot, according to opinion polls. The election has been labeled as the most unpredictable in the nation’s history, as it may produce more than one obvious option for a ruling coalition.
As the trial progresses against the businessman who was the frequent subject of Kuciak’s reporting, leaks of tapes recovered by police show conversations between him and judicial officials, including Trnka, and Smer politicians.
At the time of his arrest, Trnka had been suspended from his position of prosecutor following the release of the leaked transcripts.
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