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Slovakia could reclassify Fico shooting as terrorism – official

The suspect in the attempted assassination of the Slovak prime minister has so far been charged with attempted murder

The suspect accused of shooting Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico last week may end up facing terrorism charges, local media reported on Wednesday, citing the country’s Prosecutor General Maros Zilinka.

Fico was shot on May 15 in the city of Handlova in central Slovakia. He underwent a difficult surgery, and is currently recuperating at a hospital in the town of Banska Bystrica.

Fico’s alleged attacker was detained on the spot and identified by the media as 71-year-old Juraj Cintula, a former security guard and a published poet. The Slovak authorities have not yet confirmed the shooter’s identity but earlier announced that the suspect had been charged with attempted murder.

According to Zilinka, however, the current legal classification of the attack could be upgraded to terrorism as the investigation progresses.

“If questions arise in society as to why this is not treated as a crime of terrorism, I answer that it may happen that the act is reclassified as such, but only based on the results of the evidence,” the official told reporters on Wednesday, following a meeting of the country’s Security Council.

The official advised the media and public to “refrain from any speculations, hypotheses and premature conclusions” regarding the attack on Fico while the investigation is ongoing. He also said that a separate criminal probe had been launched into the leakage and publication of data from Fico’s health records following the attack.

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Meanwhile, Fico’s condition has stabilized but remains serious, Slovak Deputy Prime Minister Robert Kalinak told reporters earlier on Wednesday. He added that the prime minister will remain in the Banska Bystrica hospital for at least several more days, as doctors have not yet cleared him to be transported to the capital.

Fico’s suspected attacker reportedly told police that he shot the prime minister because he “disagreed” with his policies, including the suspension of military aid to Ukraine. So far, the authorities have not cited any evidence indicating that the attacker did not act alone or that he was associated with any radical groups, although he had participated in anti-government protests in the past.

Fico is a polarizing figure both in Slovakia and the EU, in large part due to his position on the Ukraine conflict. He has repeatedly argued against supplying Kiev with weapons, and stopped all Slovak military aid to Ukraine upon taking office last year. He is also a staunch opponent of sanctions against Russia.

 

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