Slovak PM Fico out of danger but condition serious, deputy says

Slovak PM Fico out of danger but condition serious, deputy says


The prime minister was shot on Wednesday in an attack that raised alarms

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BANSKA BYSTRICA (Reuters) - Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico is no longer in immediate danger but still in a serious condition, his deputy said on Sunday, four days after an assassination attempt that sent shockwaves through Europe.

"The worst that we feared had passed, at least for the time being," Deputy Prime Minister Robert Kalinak told a news conference outside the hospital where Fico is being treated in the central Slovak city of Banska Bystrica.

The prime minister was shot on Wednesday in an attack that raised alarms over the polarised state of politics in the central European country of 5.4 million people.

Kalinak told journalists that Fico's condition was still too serious to consider transferring him to hospital in the capital.

"We are all a little calmer. When we were saying that we want to get closer to a positive prognosis, then I believe that we are a step closer to that," he added.

"But his condition remains very serious and therefore he will remain in the care of doctors at the Banska Bystrica hospital."

The shooting was the first major assassination attempt on a European political leader for more than 20 years.


The Slovak Specialised Criminal Court ruled on Saturday that the suspect, identified by prosecutors as Juraj C., would remain in custody after being charged with attempted murder.

Local news media say the suspect is a 71-year-old former security guard at a shopping mall and the author of three collections of poetry.

There has been no official statement made public from the suspect, or any lawyer representing him.

Interior Minister Matus Sutaj Estok has said the suspect was angered by the government's Ukraine policy. Fico's government has ended official military support for Ukraine and taken a more pro-Russian line on the conflict than most European Union partners.

The government has said he became radicalised after Fico ally Peter Pellegrini won a presidential election last month, and that he had told police about his dissatisfaction with the government's reforms of the prosecution service and public media - criticised by the opposition a well as the European Commission.


The assassination attempt has led to calls from across Slovakia's political spectrum for a calming of tensions and a toning down of the often fierce rhetoric that has marked public debate in recent years.

On Thursday, president-elect Pellegrini and President Zuzana, a critic of Fico who is due to hand over the top job in June, called for unity and invited the leaders of the nation's political parties to attend round-table talks.

However, in a video posted on his Facebook page on Sunday, Pellegrini said that he now believed the time was probably not right for such talks, after Fico's ruling party also raised doubts about holding them now.

"Recent days and press conferences have shown us that some politicians are simply incapable of basic self-reflection even after such a tragedy," Pellegrini said.

The government and opposition have traded accusations of stirring up negative emotions.

Slovak police said on Sunday they had arrested three people over social media posts which expressed approval of the assassination attempt.