Man accused of trying to kill Slovak prime minister makes first court appearance

18 May 2024, 12:44

Policemen guard the area as a convoy brings the suspect in shooting of Slovakia’s Prime Minister Robert Fico, to court in Pezinok
Slovakia Prime Minister. Picture: PA

Robert Fico remains in a serious condition in hospital after the assassination attempt in Handlova.

The man accused of attempting to assassinate Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico has made his first court appearance as the politician remained in a serious condition recovering from surgery after surviving multiple gunshots, Slovak state media has said.

Mr Fico, 59, was attacked as he greeted supporters following a government meeting on Wednesday in the former coal mining town of Handlova.

The suspect, who was tackled to the ground and arrested, appeared at the Specialised Criminal Court on Saturday where prosecutors sought an order to detain him further.

Media were banned from the court hearing.

Health minister Zuzana Dolinkova said Mr Fico’s condition was stable but serious on Saturday but a two-hour surgery on Friday to remove dead tissue from multiple gunshot wounds “contributed to a positive prognosis”.

Robert Fico was shot on Wednesday
Robert Fico was shot on Wednesday (Denes Erdos/AP)

Prosecutors told police not to publicly identify the suspect or release other details about the case, but unconfirmed media reports said the man was a 71-year-old retiree known as an amateur poet who may have once worked as a shopping centre security guard.

Government authorities gave details that matched that description, adding the suspect did not belong to any political groups, although the attack itself was politically motivated.

Police wearing balaclavas and carrying rifles guarded the courthouse in Pezinok, a small town outside the capital, Bratislava.

Officers had taken the suspect to his home in the town of Levice on Friday and seized a computer and some documents, according to local media.

Slovakia Prime Minister
Police escort a man, believed to be the suspect for Wednesday’s assassination attempt on Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico, from his home in Levice, Slovakia (TVNoviny via AP)

Miriam Lapunikova, the director of the University FD Roosevelt hospital in Banska Bystrica, where Mr Fico was taken by helicopter after he was shot, said he was awake and stable in an intensive care unit.

Mr Fico has long been a divisive figure in Slovakia and beyond. His return to power last year on a pro-Russia, anti-American platform led to worries among fellow European Union and Nato members that he would abandon his country’s pro-western course, particularly on Ukraine.

At the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion in February 2022, Slovakia was one of Ukraine’s staunchest supporters, but Mr Fico halted arms deliveries to Ukraine when he returned to power, his fourth time serving as prime minister.

Thousands of demonstrators have repeatedly rallied in the capital and around the country of 5.4 million to protest against his policies.

By Press Association

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