Slovakia: lawmakers refuse to lift the immunity of former premier Robert Fico

The Slovak parliament refused to lift immunity rules and allow the detention of former Prime Minister Robert Fico, accused of creating a criminal group.

Only 74 of the 150 legislators of the National Council voted in favor of the prosecution’s request, two less than the necessary majority.

Prosecutors had said they wanted to take Fico into custody to prevent him from influencing witnesses.

Fico denied any allegations, saying the allegations made last month were politically motivated. He also said the case against him and his former interior minister, Robert Kalinak, was designed to destroy political opposition.

Fico currently has immunity from prosecution as a lawmaker for his left-wing opposition Smer-Social Democracy party. Kalinak, who was arrested, is currently working as a lawyer.

Slovakia’s four-party ruling coalition has a comfortable parliamentary majority, so the outcome of Wednesday’s vote reflected a split in the coalition.

The country’s government has made fighting corruption a key political issue since it took power following the 2020 general election. Numerous senior officials, police officers, judges, prosecutors, politicians and businessmen have recently been charged. of criminal offenses.

Fico, considered a populist politician, served as prime minister twice from 2006 to 2010 and again from 2012 to 2018.

He resigned after the 2018 killing of investigative journalist Jan Kuciak and his girlfriend, Martina Kusnirova.

Kuciak was investigating possible government corruption when he was killed and his death resulted in major street protests and a political crisis that led to the collapse of the government.