Attacker of Slovak Prime Minister Fico may not have acted alone, says minister

Attacker of Slovak Prime Minister Fico may not have acted alone, says minister

The suspect in an attempted assassination of Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico may not have been simply a “lone wolf” as previously believed, the interior minister said on Sunday, as security services try to shed light on an attack that It shocked all of Europe.

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

The incident has highlighted the deep polarization of politics in the central European country of 5.4 million people.

Interior Minister Matus Sutaj Estok said an investigation team had been created that would also investigate whether the suspect acted as part of a group of people encouraging each other to carry out a murder.

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

This indicated that “the crime could have been committed by a certain group of people,” Estok said at 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 to transfer him to a hospital in the capital, Bratislava.

“The worst that we feared (has not happened), at least for the moment,” Kalinak said at a press conference outside the hospital where Fico is being treated in the city of Banská Bystrica, in central Slovakia.

“We are all a little calmer. When we said that we wanted to get closer to a positive prognosis, I think we are one step closer to it,” he added.

Suspect charged

Slovakia's Specialized Criminal Court ruled Saturday that the suspect, identified by prosecutors as Juraj C., would remain in custody after being charged with attempted murder.

Local media outlets say the suspect is a 71-year-old former mall security guard and author of three collections of poems.

No official statement has been made public from the suspect, nor from any attorney representing him.

Estok said Thursday that the suspect was angry about the government's policy in Ukraine. Fico's government has ended official military support for Ukraine and taken a more pro-Russian line in the conflict than most EU partners.

The government has said it was radicalized after Fico ally Peter Pellegrini won the presidential election last month, and had told police of its displeasure with the government's criticized reforms in the prosecutor's office and public media. both by the opposition and by the European Commission.

The assassination attempt has sparked calls from across the Slovak political spectrum to calm tensions and soften the often fiery rhetoric that has marked public debate in recent years.