Film about 1995 kidnapping revisits old grudges in Slovakia

AP News
Posted: Mar 02, 2017 1:41 PM
Film about 1995 kidnapping revisits old grudges in Slovakia

BRATISLAVA, Slovakia (AP) — A new movie in Slovakia is based on a real event that shocked the country: the kidnapping of then-President Michal Kovac's son during the rule of authoritarian Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar.

Meciar led Slovakia into international isolation in the 1990s and is believed to be behind Michal Kovac Jr.'s abduction to Austria in 1995. The Slovak spy agency known as SIS — then led by a close Meciar ally — has been widely blamed.

Meciar's government acquired temporarily some presidential powers in 1998 when lawmakers failed to elect a new president. He granted pardons at that time that made it impossible to investigate the kidnapping.

Slovak President Andrej Kiska has urged parliament to cancel the pardons, a request that lawmakers will vote on later this month.

In a complicated legal dispute, some, like Kiska, think the pardons can be revoked with a three-fifths vote in parliament

Others, like Prime Minister Robert Fico, say the pardons were immoral, but are legally impossible to undo.

The political thriller based on the 1995 abduction, titled "Kidnapping," opened Thursday. The president called the move directed by Mariana Cengel a sad story, "and the saddest thing is it's based on reality."

The late Kovac's term in office was marked by clashes with Meciar.

It is believed that Meciar wanted to discredit the president by the kidnapping because an international warrant was issued for his son in Germany. But an Austrian court rejected the younger Kovac's extradition and he returned to Slovakia.

The president's death in October last year at age 86 gave Kiska an opportunity to renew efforts to annul Meciar's pardons.