Slovakia: verdict postponed in Kuciak case
The eagerly awaited verdict in the trial on the murder of Slovak investigative journalist Ján Kuciak and his fiancée was surprisingly postponed on Tuesday. The gunman was sentenced to 23 years in prison in April, but the court's verdict on those who commissioned and organised the crime has now been delayed until early September with the explanation that the judges need more time to reach a decision. Is this a worrying development?
The final judgment is not made here anyway
Sme discusses the possible reasons for the postponement:
“Were there any ambiguities regarding the guilt or innocence of one of the three defendants, or were procedural errors made? It can also be speculated that the Senate was not unanimous regarding the chain of evidence. The main suspect Kočner and his confidante Zsuzsová based their defence strategy exactly on this. So we'll meet again in September. But this landmark case, which has fundamentally influenced the history of democratic Slovakia, probably won't end in a month's time anyway. Whatever the Senate decides, there will be an appeal hearing, so the final word will no doubt come from the Supreme Court.”
Please don't rush a verdict!
Peter Bárdy, editor-in-chief of Aktuality.sk and former boss of the murdered journalist, calls for a level-headed response:
“Of course we want to know the verdict as soon as possible. But it's important that it should be reached on the basis of evidence rather than emotions and public opinion. You can't hand down a life sentence entailing 20 to 25 years behind bars without further ado. Particularly since in this specific case the defendants deny their guilt and the prosecution is working primarily on the basis of circumstantial evidence, even though there is enough of it to make the case clear. We don't want the Senate to make a decision under pressure from the public. It must decide under the pressure of evidence.”