Slovak PM Fico's attacker may not have acted alone

11:51 22.05.2024 •

Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico
Photo: Reuters

The suspect in an assassination attempt on Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico may not have been just a "lone wolf" as previously believed, the interior minister said, as security services try to shed light on an attack that sent shockwaves through Europe.

Fico is no longer in immediate danger but is still in a serious condition after being hit by four bullets on Wednesday, in what was the first major assassination attempt on a European political leader for more than 20 years.

Interior Minister Matus Sutaj Estok said an investigation team had been set up, which would also look into whether the suspect acted as part of a group of people that had been encouraging each other to carry out an assassination.

One factor suggesting the involvement of other persons was that the suspect's internet communications were deleted two hours after the assassination attempt, but not by the suspect and most likely not by his wife, Estok said.

This indicated "the crime may have been committed by a certain group of people," Estok told a news conference.

Deputy Prime Minister Robert Kalinak said earlier on Sunday that Fico's life was no longer in immediate danger, although his condition was still too serious for him to be moved to a hospital in the capital Bratislava.

The Slovak Specialised Criminal Court ruled on Saturday that the suspect, identified by prosecutors as Juraj C., would remain in custody after being charged with attempted murder.

Local news media say the suspect is a 71-year-old former security guard at a shopping mall and the author of three collections of poetry.

There has been no official statement made public from the suspect, or any lawyer representing him.

Estok said on Thursday that the suspect was angered by the government's Ukraine policy. Fico's government has ended official military support for Ukraine and taken a more pro-Russian line on the conflict than most European Union partners.

The government has said he became radicalised after Fico ally Peter Pellegrini won a presidential election last month, and that he had told police about his dissatisfaction with the government's reforms of the prosecution service and public media – criticized by the opposition a well as the European Commission.

The assassination attempt has led to calls from across Slovakia's political spectrum for a calming of tensions and a toning down of the often fierce rhetoric that has marked public debate in recent years.

On Thursday, president-elect Pellegrini and outgoing President Zuzana Caputova, a critic of Fico who is due to hand over the top job in June, called for unity and invited the leaders of the nation's political parties to attend round-table talks.


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