Slovakia: Police arrest Romani candidate, his daughter insists he is innocent
On Friday, 13 October, hundreds of members of Slovakia's National Financial Police Unit, the National Crime Agency, and other police forces intervened against people in the regions of Banská Bystrica, Bratislava, Košice and Prešov. "Officers involved in Operation SHARK are seaching houses and other places in more than 40 buildings with the aim of documenting serious economic criminal activity," the police posted to their Facebook profile.
On Monday, 16 October, Slovak media reported that one of those arrested during the raid was the Romani politician Stanislav Vospálek, who is the district chair of the Most-Híd party, a councilor on the Košice Regional Assembly, and who also works at the office of the Slovak Plenipotentiary for the Romani Minority, Ábel Ravasz. Most-Híd then suspended his party membership and removed him from their candidate list for the regional elections.
Klaudie Vospálková, the politician's daughter, has written a commentary for news server Romea.cz about all that has happened around her father's arrest. News server Romea.cz is publishing her commentary here in full translation.
Commentary by Klaudie Vospálková on the arrest of her father
Just a couple of hours ago the information was published on the Internet that one of the people arrested as part of Operation SHARK was a Romani businessman from Slovakia, PhDr. Stanislav Vospálek, MBA. SHARK is a top secret operation of the National Criminal Agency (NAKA) aiming to detect economic criminal activity and a total of 63 people from different regions all over the Slovak Republic have now been charged.
This is all just a political game
Many people have already come forward to stand up for Stanislav Vospálek. The reaction on social networking sites has spread at an unreal speed.
Stanislav Vospálek is running in the elections for the higher territorial unit of Košice, which are right around the corner. He also works as a representative of the regional branch of the Office of the Government Plenipotentiary for the Romani Community.
People know him to be a person who has never harmed anybody, who aids others free of charge, and who gave frequently to other children who needed assistance more than his own children. All of this is an ordinary political game and part of the election campaign being run by others.
During the house search absolutely nothing was discovered. The firm involved has been audited by the tax authorities before and no irregularities have ever been found.
My father was in 51st place on the list of the 63 people charged, but the media are calling him a "big fish". They are presenting him as if he were the head, the organizer of all of this, which is not possible, logically speaking.
That list includes charges beginning with the most serious and ending with the most simple. The house searches happened on Friday 13 October and by Sunday afternoon the Special Court in Banská Bystrica had issued is decision.
The case file allegedly is more than 5 000 pages long and includes a total of eight sealed appendices that the court based its decision on. Not a single attorney for any defendant has had the opportunity to see those sealed appendices.
The presiding judge took just 15 minutes to decide the case! All of this has just been a farce, and the court proceedings has been a show trial.
No judge can decide about the cases of so many defendants in such a brief amount of time. All of their attorneys have already filed a complaint with the Supreme Court of the Slovak Republic.
Now the answer from that court is awaited. Nothing has been proven yet, and until a decision as to the defendants' guilt and punishment is issued, each of them is considered innocent.
Their time in custody is just meant to be "temporary". The aim is to prevent them from continuing their alleged criminal activity.
"We want to vote for him!"
Many people are reaching out to our family. People want to vote for Stanislav Vospálek despite his arrest and will fight for his name to remain on the candidate list of the Most-Híd party.
Ábel Ravasz, the Slovak Government Plenipotentiary for the Romani community, said the following to Redakcia 1, a Romani radio station and online blogspot: "Stanislav Vospálek is maybe the only Romani councilor sitting on a Regional Assembly in Slovakia. I know him for some time as a person who has done a great deal for Romani people, and I got to know him as an activist and politician."
One of my father's activities was, for example, the building of footbridges for Romani people who were living in isolated areas. The bridges connected them to the rest of the "world".
The regional head of Most-Híd and Member of the the National Assembly of the Slovak Republic, Elemér Jakab, has also stood up for my father. "I was surprised by what has happened and I actually have no idea what they have arrested him for. I, too, just learned about it through a text message. I consider him to be a decent person, and for that reason I prefer to wait until the investigation reaches its conclusion," Jakab said.
The information about the investigation is meant to be top secret, but my father's name was published by reporter Monika Tódová through the "Denník N" daily. The name of no other defendant in the investigation has been published yet.
The operation is meant to be top secret. It is very odd that the name of Regional Assembly member Stanislav Vospálek has been published in particular.
He is apparently the only defendant in the case running for office. This is purely an electoral tactic, nothing more.
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