- The Washington Times - Friday, March 17, 2000

Slovakia's image

Just as the Slovak Republic is winning praise in Washington for political reforms, along comes Slovak human rights lawyer Juraj Trokan to prick that image.

Mr. Trokan told Embassy Row yesterday that Prime Minister Mikulas Dzurinda is violating the Slovak Constitution and behaving as badly as the man he replaced, the authoritarian Vladimir Meciar.

"The Slovak government is ignoring the rule of law," Mr. Trokan said.

The case he is trying to publicize involves his client, Ivan Lexa, the former head of the Slovak Intelligence Service.

Before the 1998 elections, Mr. Meciar granted Mr. Lexa immunity from prosecution for any role he may have had in the 1995 kidnapping of Michael Kovac Jr., the son of former President Michael Kovac, who was a political opponent of Mr. Meciar's.

Kidnappers dumped the younger Mr. Kovac in Austria, where he was arrested on an international warrant for his suspected involvement in a fraudulent business deal in Germany. He was released and returned to Slovakia, and Mr. Kovac later granted his son an amnesty.

Mr. Meciar and Mr. Lexa have long been suspected of having ordered the kidnapping to embarrass the former president.

After the elections, Mr. Dzurinda revoked Mr. Lexa's immunity and ordered him prosecuted for the kidnapping. A Slovak constitutional court ruled the prime minister had no authority to cancel the amnesty, and the case is headed for the European Court of Human Rights.

"Mr. Lexa's basic human rights are not only being violated, but the government is waging a campaign against him," Mr. Trokan said.

In Washington, Mr. Trokan is asking members of the House and the Senate to sign a letter to Mr. Dzurinda, urging him to honor the amnesty.

"We are targeting members who deal with human rights, have visited Slovakia, or are of Slovak origin," Mr. Trokan said.

Mr. Trokan said he took the case because "the Slovak government is ignoring the rule of law," not because he supports Mr. Lexa or Mr. Meciar. He called the amnesty "immoral but legal."

Mr. Trokan said he has suffered political consequences for taking the unpopular case. He was a member of the opposition Democratic Party, until it expelled him for representing Mr. Lexa.

A '30-year high'

Pakistani Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi says tensions between her country and India are at a "30-year high" as President Clinton prepares to depart tomorrow on his trip to South Asia.

"We're very pleased with Clinton's decision to stop in Pakistan," she said in an interview published yesterday by Japan's Kyodo News Service. "I think he understands the need to be involved in trying to defuse tensions between India and Pakistan.

"The relations have deteriorated in a manner that we feel that we are not accepted by the outside world."

India and Pakistan have fought three wars against each other since World War II, and tensions have increased since they exploded nuclear devices in 1998.

Miss Lodhi said the military government of Gen. Pervez Musharraf might sign a global treaty banning nuclear tests as soon as Pakistan develops a national consensus for arms control.

"It's not a question of what India does," she said. "We have to determine this for ourselves."

Mr. Clinton yesterday said he will warn both countries about the "dangerous future" they face in a nuclear arms race.

"There are those in the region who hope we will simply accept its nuclear status and move on. I will not do that," Mr. Clinton said in videotaped remarks to the Carnegie Nonproliferation Conference here.

The State Department, meanwhile, criticized Pakistan for banning rallies and strikes ahead of Mr. Clinton's visit.

"We are extremely disappointed by the government of Pakistan's decision to ban all public political rallies throughout the country," spokesman James P. Rubin told reporters.

Mr. Clinton, the first U.S. president to visit India in 22 years, will spend most of the week in India. He will stop one day in Bangladesh and spend a few hours in Pakistan.

He has insisted his visit is not an indication that the United States approves of the October military coup that overthrew a democratically elected but corrupt government in Islamabad.

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