Slovak police charge intelligence chief with forming criminal group, abuse of power

(Reuters) -Slovak police charged the country’s spy master and other high-ranking officials in the security community with forming a criminal group and conspiring to abuse power, in a case that has emerged just weeks ahead of an early election.

Slovak voters are due to go to the polls on Sept. 30. The EU and NATO member country is governed by a caretaker cabinet after the previous ruling coalition succumbed to infighting and lost the confidence of parliament in December.

“The investigator brought charges for the crime of establishing, forming and supporting a criminal group, the crime of abuse of public authority and the crime of obstruction of justice,” police president Stefan Hamran said at a televised press conference.

The police identified those charged only by their first names, but Hamran confirmed that the current chief of the Slovak Information Service (SIS), Roman Alac, his predecessor Vladimir Pcolinsky, and National Security Authority director Roman Konecny were among those charged.

Caretaker Prime Minister Ludovit Odor has convened an extraordinary session of the country’s national security council to discuss the case on Friday.

Polls favour the Smer-SD party, led by former prime minister Robert Fico, to win the September election.

In a poll conducted by Ipsos agency this month, the populist Smer-SD scored 19.7%, followed by liberal Progresivne Slovensko with 16.9%. The HLAS party, founded by another former prime minister and one-time Smer-SD member, Peter Pellegrini, received 13.3%.

Fico has opposed military aid to Ukraine and has called for a diplomatic solution to the war launched by Russia in February 2022.

(Reporting by Robert Muller in Prague; Editing by Hugh Lawson/Keith Weir)