Slovakia should have lost millions of euros due to fraud on the financial administration (SF).
Jozef Brhel, an entrepreneur associated with SMER, was to profit from them. And his questioning should come today at the Specialized Criminal Court (STS) in Banska Bystrica. But not only he surrounded himself with a number of renowned lawyers. David Lindtner and ex-Minister of the Interior Robert Kalinak are defending former State Secretary of the Ministry of Finance from the SMER era Radek Kuruc. The two of them should also get to speak today.
16.23 – Hearing suspended. It will continue next week.
16.05 – In the matter, FS is injured, which sent “Exercise of claim for damages”. Hrubala read that the Financial Directorate is demanding more than 45,000,000 euros from the defendants as damages.
15.41 – “This is a political process. We didn’t say it, but the SIS was the first to come up with it,” said Robert Kalinak, Kuruc’s second defense attorney, at the beginning of his opinion on the indictment. According to him, most of the defendants in the Mytnik case were in illegal detention: “The reading of the indictment should have started with an apology to all those who were unjustly in custody.” According to the ex-minister, the prosecutor should have filed the indictment: “There are an awful lot of mistakes and they are serious. In my opinion, someone was trying to forcefully create an indictment. Politician, today the head of the Special Prosecutor’s Office organizes the whole thing. That’s why it’s a political case.” Kalinak started to mention other people, at which the president of the court stopped him: “Stop commenting on any persons. It’s not about proving things now. You are talking about something that has not been demonstrated or proven. Leave these words out and concentrate on the indictment.” After Kalinak’s next words, Hrubala spoke again and told the defense attorney to focus on what he has.
14.58 – In the next part of his statement, Lindtner thoroughly addressed the legal qualification of the crime for which his client Kuruc is accused. “According to court practice, this is not a crime of accepting a bribe, but of indirect corruption,” said the defense attorney. He pointed to several decisions of the Specialized Criminal Court, the Supreme Court and the Constitutional Court, which allegedly prove this. At the end of his speech, Lindtner said on behalf of the client that they are proposing to the prosecutor to withdraw the indictment against Kuruc and that they will therefore not complain, which could cost Slovakia a lot of money.
14.07 – Senate President Jan Hrubala stopped and warned Lindtner several times. The reasons are practically identical. The judge explains to the lawyer that he should comment on the indictment and not, for example, make a “historical excursion” here, or say words that currently only take up time. Lindtner is still explaining to the court panel why the indictment of his client Kuruc is unfounded.
1:34 p.m. – Lindtner, who represents Kuruc, also spoke: “I have always considered Repa to be an excellent prosecutor. I met him as a judge. His charges were excellent. I’m even more surprised by what’s happening here and I’m worried if Repa wrote this indictment at all.” Lindtner, like all his predecessors, wants to address in his opinion the mistakes that should have happened during the preliminary proceedings.
13.11 – The hearing continues. “The prosecution is not conducted properly,” said defense attorney Martin Pohove at the beginning of his statement.
11.42 – The judge announced a lunch break.
11:36 a.m. – After the long statements of the Brhelov defense attorneys, Lubomir Havlik, representing the former head of the IT section of the financial administration, Milan Grega, took the floor. The president of the senate asked him at the beginning how long his statement would be. “I don’t intend to compete with my speakers,” Havlik said, making the courtroom laugh. According to the defense attorney, his client’s indictment is unfounded: “I consider the alleged damage to be unfounded, which is also proven by expert reports. The only reason why my client is sitting here as a defendant is the false claim that he is connected to Brhel through one company.” Brhel junior’s defense attorney Peter Rybánsky also spoke, who expressed himself like the others, and that, according to him, his client is being accused for no reason: “Criminal proceedings must be stopped or the indictment dismissed.”
11.16 – in the hearing room, Kerak also heard that former NAKA operative Jan Kalavsky allegedly heard that the prosecutors of the Office of the Special Prosecutor’s Office (USP) Ondrej Repa, Michal Surek and one of the investigators received a bribe of 650,000 for sweeping the suspicions against Kalinak companies. Prosecutors deny this. It wouldn’t even make much sense, since Kalinak has been critical of the USP for a long time and is himself accused in the Twilight case together with ex-prime minister Robert Fico, which the USP is handling.
10.48 – “My client’s indictment is based on the testimony of penitents. If you take them away, they have nothing to do with my client. He is innocent,” said Kuruc’s lawyer Kalinak during the break. According to one of Brhel’s defense attorneys, Roman Kerak, the witnesses Ludovit Mako and Frantisek Imrecze were not exempted from confidentiality before their interrogation at the police station. As high-ranking ex-functionaries of the FS, they had to be, otherwise, according to the defense attorney, they should not have been questioned at all.
10.03 – The businessman’s lawyers are still working with the investigator who handled the case. She allegedly removed several pieces of evidence from the file. “This is a prime example of file manipulation,” said the defense attorney. At the same time, he started to read from some document, at which the Chairman of the STS Senate, Jan Hrubala, stopped him: “The evidence has not yet been opened. Now you are to state your position on the prosecution and not read some document that you want to use in evidence.”
9.42 – Literally an army of lawyers representing the Brhelov family continues with their opinions. The preliminary proceedings came to the fore again, in which Brhel was allegedly denied the right to a defense. “The investigation file was conducted in gross violation of the law. The impossibility of seeing all the evidence and commenting on it harms the right of the accused to defend himself,” said one of the Brhelovs’ 6 defense attorneys.
9.25 – The hearing continues.
8:45 a.m. – The closely watched case started yesterday with the first hearing, and it was immediately stuffy in the court. Brhel’s defenders Michal Mandzak, Lukas Trojan and Lubomir Stanglovic objected to practically everything. First it was the prosecutor Ondrej Repa, then the member of the court senate Rastislav Stieranka and finally the presentation of the indictment itself. Although it slowed down the court process, the second part was already in full swing and it should continue that way today.
“I have never experienced such a preliminary procedure in my life, and I hope I never will again,” Mandzak said yesterday. The legal representatives of Jozef Brhel the elder and the younger commented on the indictment. Today, the defense attorneys of the other defendants, i.e. Kuruc, former director of the FS IT section Milan Greg, lawyer Martin Bahleda and architect Miroslav Slahucka, should present their opinions on the indictment. After that, the defendants should get to speak, and they will appear before the court panel with their testimony.
The group of defendants was supposed to profit from the state contract that Michal Suchoba’s company received from FS. The amount of damage reaches an incredible 45 million euros. FS paid up to 53.8 million euros for the IT system, the value of which, according to experts, was 8.6 million euros. In a case with millions of damages for the state, however, the police managed to secure only a relatively small amount. “As part of the extradition of the items, a value exceeding 1.6 million euros was seized,” said NAKA director Lubomir Danko.
On the contrary, Mandzak believes that the whole case was manipulated. He has therefore filed a criminal complaint and wants the court to question Prime Minister Eduard Heger and the head of the financial administration, Jiri Zezulka, who are said to have something to say about the matter. According to Mandzak, some group should have stolen up to 19 million euros from the state on VAT returns: “This is a chain where at the beginning Michal Suchoba was the head of the criminal group, according to the indictment in the Daniari case. At the end of the chain is the withdrawal of cash from the ATM.” In this context, Brhel’s defense attorney talks about the suspicion that the situation around the chain is related to the manipulation of the Mytnik case. The key witnesses in the Mytnik case are Suchoba and the ex-head of the FS during the SMER era, Frantisek Imrecze.