Agriculture Ministry to Take Steps to Keep Slanske Forests in State Hands

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Bratislava, February 10 (TASR) – The Agriculture and Rural Development Ministry and the state-run forestry company Lesy SR will take steps to ensure that the Slanske Forests remain the property of the Slovak Republic, Agriculture Minister Gabriela Matecna (a Slovak National Party/SNS nominee) told a news conference held on Friday with Lesy SR general director Marian Stanik in attendance.

Matecna specified that all the necessary steps will be taken in connection with the Supreme Court’s verdict in the criminal case involving Milan I., Ferdinand O. and Pavol P. as accused persons.

Assets worth €100 million are at stake in the Slanske Forests case, said Matecna who finds any challenging of the guilt of those who stand accused in the case to be incomprehensible.

“I informed the Government on Wednesday (February 8) about the whole situation and about the steps to be taken by the ministry. The Slanske Forests are the property of the Slovak Republic and of the citizens of our country. We’ll do our best for it to remain like this,” she stressed.

“In order to prevent the accused persons’ potential speculations regarding the case’s reopening and the possibility that Slovakia might lose the Slanske Forests, Lesy SR will adopt measures in cooperation with the ministry,” said Matecna, adding that they intend to file, through Justice Minister Lucia Zitnanska (Most-Hid), a special appeal and a complaint at the Constitutional Court.

“Lesy SR, in cooperation with the Agriculture Ministry, will take all necessary actions within a set deadline so that the fraudsters are convicted with the final verdict. A failure to find them guilty despite there being plenty of clear evidence might result in the reopening of the lawsuit concerning the Slanske Forests’ ownership. The regional court is currently bound by the Supreme Court’s final verdict despite its controversial reasoning,” said Stanik.

Matecna explained that the beginning of the Slanske Forests case dates back to 1998 when 6,500 hectares of forests and about 500 hectares of arable land disappeared from the letter of property ownership of then state-run forestry company Vychodoslovenske Lesy. “The file related to the case has over 7,500 pages,” noted Matecna. The accused Milan I. strove to privatise the Slanske Forests; however, the Agriculture Ministry rejected it. A fabricated scenario later followed involving descendants of nobility who had transferred their alleged ownership of the Slanske Forests to the accused under very suspicious circumstances.

Matecna added that the Constitutional Court confirmed with its verdict in 2016 that the Slanske Forests are state property and a criminal prosecution was launched against Milan I., Ferdinand O. and Pavol P. based on the suspicion of fraud.

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