Slovakia: Demonstration in support of ethnic Hungarian
On 30 April an estimated 300 people participated in a demonstration in the center of Bratislava in support of Hedviga Žáková Malinová, a former student. The Slovak Prosecutor-General has charged her with inventing claims that she was assaulted by persons unknown to her because of her Hungarian origin in 2006.
Malinová rejects the charges and insists the incident did take place. Many of those attending the protest, which was organized by the Hungarian Roundtable in Slovakia, wore t-shirts reading "Hungarians belong on the other side of the Danube", the slogan that Malinová's alleged attackers were said to have written on her blouse.
Béla Bugár, head of the opposition party Most-Híd, which defends the interests of the Hungarian minority in Slovakia, wore one of the t-shirts as well. People carried banners calling for the government to close the Justice Ministry and turn it into a grocery store, as they believe justice does not exist in Slovakia.
Demonstrators leading the march carried a coffin with "Justice" written on it. A simultaneous public event also took place in Bratislava organized by the populist Slovak National Party (Slovenská národní strana - SNS).
About 10 people at that event demanded an end to "ethnic blackmail". The SNS is famous for its anti-Hungarian, anti-Romani rhetoric.
Hungarian Vice Prime Minister Zsolt Semjén, who is in charge of the agenda of ethnic Hungarians in the diaspora, told the press that the demonstration would help jolt public opinion in Slovakia. The MTI press agency quoted him as saying the case is a question of human rights and that anyone could find themselves with a similar problem in Slovakia.
The Malinová scandal happened in the summer of 2006 during the first administration of Robert Fico, who is still Slovak Prime Minister. Malinová, who at the time was a 23-year-old student, said she had been beaten up by two skinhead youths who wrote anti-Hungarian slogans on her clothing.
The young woman had been walking to an exam and speaking Hungarian on the phone with someone when she was attacked. In September 2006 the Slovak Police closed their investigation of the case, concluding that the student had invented the assault.
Malinová has been under investigation for giving false testimony and for perjury since May 2007. The investigation of the case has been protracted due to the need for several expert evaluations of the case.
This past spring the Prosecutor-General filed charges against Malinová. The Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Slovakia subsequently issued a statement saying that the reasons for the charges were evidently fabricated and that any trial of Malinová would have no choice but to acquit her for lack of evidence.
Newly-elected Slovak President Andrej Kiska, who will replace outgoing President Ivan Gašparovič, has already announced that should Malinová be convicted, he will pardon her. Malinová has also turned to the European Court for Human Rights with a complaint charging Slovakia with committing errors during the investigation of her case which allegedly amounted to a failure to guarantee her a fair trail.
Malinová ultimately reached an agreement with the previous cabinet of Slovak PM Iveta Radičová that she would drop the case in exchange for an apology from the Slovak Government. She also gave up her claim to financial compensation from the state as a result of the out-of-court settlement.
The former student now lives in the northern Hungarian town of Györ. She lost her Slovak citizenship at the end of last year after becoming a Hungarian citizens, as Slovak law only permits dual citizenship in exceptional cases.
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