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23 May, 2024 19:50

Slovak PM’s attacker wanted more weapons for Kiev – judge

A Specialized Criminal Court issued a pre-trial detention order for the suspect in the Robert Fico shooting case
Slovak PM’s attacker wanted more weapons for Kiev – judge

Bratislava’s decision not to send weapons to Kiev was one of the major reasons behind the recent attack on Prime Minister Robert Fico, a Slovak Specialized Criminal Court concluded on Thursday as it was deciding on a pre-trial restraint measure against the suspect.

Fico was shot several times in the torso on May 15 in the city of Handlova in central Slovakia. He is currently recuperating in a hospital after undergoing surgery. His alleged attacker was detained on the spot and later identified by the media as 71-year-old Juraj Cintula, a former security guard and a published poet.

On Thursday, judge Roman Puchovsky issued a pre-trial detention order for Cintula, arguing that there is “reasonable suspicion” that he committed a “particularly serious crime” and a “reasonable fear” that he could “continue criminal activity” due to his general resentment towards the government.

Speaking about the suspect’s motives, the judge said that Cintula disagreed with a range of government policies, including the dismantling of the state graft-prosecution unit, as well as what he called “persecution” of the media and artists. “What is most important, he [Cintula] wants military aid to be provided to Ukraine and considers the current government to be Judas towards the European Union, and so he decided to act,” Puchkovsky said in his decision.

Fico has repeatedly argued against supplying Kiev with weapons, and stopped all Slovak military aid to Ukraine upon taking office last year. His policy towards Moscow and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban also “bothered” Cintula, the court said. The suspect “did not like” the fact that the prime minister had “a good relationship with them,” its decision read.

According to Cintula’s own statements, he did not intend to murder Fico but merely sought to “damage the health” of the prime minister to prevent him from fulfilling his duties, the court decision said. He was acting “out of revenge due to his disagreement with the government’s policy,” it added.

Slovakia’s Deputy Parliament Speaker Lubos Blaha branded Cintula a “political fanatic” and accused the Western and local media of supposedly covering up the suspect's explicitly “pro-Ukrainian” stance. The official, who is also a deputy chairman of Fico’s SMER-SSD Party, claimed that “America’s liberal media” as well as SME – one of Slovakia’s most popular news media outlets – were waging a “disinformation campaign” in the wake of the assassination attempt.

“The American liberal media are trying to cover up that the assassin and potential terrorist Cintula is a political fanatic from their own camp – pro-Ukrainian, anti-Trump, progressive,” the politician said on Telegram, adding that “political violence perpetrated by their own liberal activists … does not fit their ideological templates.”

Earlier, the Slovakian media reported that Cintula could face terrorism charges over the attack. He is currently accused of attempted murder.