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Slovaks vote to allow annulment of pardons in kidnapping

Associated Press logo Associated Press 30/03/2017
FILE- In this Saturday April 17, 2004 file photo, the then Slovak presidential candidate and former Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar speaks to the media after casting his vote during elections in downtown Bratislava, Slovakia. Slovakia’s parliament has started to debate a proposal to annul pardons by former authoritarian Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar that prevent an investigation into the kidnapping of the son of late President Michal Kovac, Meciar's political archrival. A vote is expected on Thursday, March 30, 2017. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek, File) © The Associated Press FILE- In this Saturday April 17, 2004 file photo, the then Slovak presidential candidate and former Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar speaks to the media after casting his vote during elections in downtown Bratislava, Slovakia. Slovakia’s parliament has started to debate a proposal to annul pardons by former authoritarian Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar that prevent an investigation into the kidnapping of the son of late President Michal Kovac, Meciar's political archrival. A vote is expected on Thursday, March 30, 2017. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek, File)

BRATISLAVA, Slovakia — Slovakia's parliament amended the constitution on Thursday to make it possible for lawmakers to annul pardons granted by former Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar that barred investigations into the kidnapping of the son of late President Michal Kovac.

The authoritarian Meciar, Kovac's archrival, led Slovakia into international isolation during the 1990s and is alleged to have been behind Michal Kovac Jr.'s abduction to Austria in 1995. The Slovak spy agency known as SIS — then led by a close Meciar ally — has been widely blamed.

The event shocked the country and Thursday's decision opens the way to address the old grudges.

Meciar's government acquired some presidential powers temporarily in 1998 when lawmakers failed to elect a new president. He granted pardons that made it impossible to investigate the kidnapping.

During two separate votes Thursday, 124 and 123 lawmakers voted to allow parliament to rescind the pardons. Three voted against the amendment.

A three-fifths majority, or 90 votes in the 150-seat parliament were needed for approval.

According to the amendment, after President Andrej Kiska signs the changes, the country's Constitutional Court will have 60 days to weigh in.

Kiska, who is on a visit to Israel, had urged parliament to cancel the pardons.

In a complicated legal dispute, Kiska and some others argued that the pardons could be undone through a three-fifths vote in parliament.

Others, like Prime Minister Robert Fico, had said the pardons were immoral, but legally impossible to undo.

But after a movie based on the 1995 abduction opened this month, Fico and his left-wing Smer-Social Democracy party changed its view.

A majority of Slovaks favored the amendment.

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