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Attacker of Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico ‘maybe not a lone wolf’

  • Author, Gianluca Avagnina
  • Role, BBC News

The man suspected of attempting to assassinate Prime Minister Robert Fico may not have acted alone, Slovakia’s interior minister said.

A team is investigating the possibility that Wednesday’s attack was not carried out by a “lone wolf”, as previously thought, Matus Sutaj Estok told reporters on Sunday.

Mr. Fico’s life is no longer in danger after hours of surgery, but the 59-year-old still requires intensive care, his deputy said earlier.

On Saturday, the man accused of attempted murder was remanded in custody until his trial.

The alleged attacker has not been officially named, but Slovak reports have widely identified him as Juraj Cintula, 71, from the town of Levice.

Local media described him as a poet involved in political organizations with diverse ideologies.

At a press conference on Sunday, Mr Estok said an investigation team had been set up, which would also examine whether the suspect “operated in a certain group of people who might have instigated and supported each other mutually”.

He said this was based on information from intelligence services, including that two hours after the attack and after the suspect’s arrest, his Facebook and communications history had been deleted.

The day after the assassination attempt, Mr. Estok told a press conference that the suspect had acted alone and had previously participated in anti-government protests.

Earlier on Sunday, Deputy Prime Minister Robert Kalinak said Mr Fico’s life was no longer in danger.

Mr. Kalinak told reporters that his condition still required intensive care, but that “the worst that we feared, at least for now, is over.”

“We can consider his condition stable with a positive prognosis,” he said outside the hospital where Mr Fico is being treated in the town of Banska Bystrica. “We all feel a little more relaxed now.”

He added that Mr Fico would remain in Banska Bystrica for the time being, with a transfer not possible in the near future due to his condition.

The prime minister was shot at point blank range as he greeted supporters after a government meeting in the small town of Handlova.

Interior Minister Matus Sutaj Estok said that if one of the shots “had gone a few centimeters higher, it would have hit the prime minister’s liver.”

The attack deeply shocked Slovakia. On Thursday, Slovakia’s outgoing president, Zuzana Caputova, called for calm and invited all party leaders to a meeting to discuss political tensions.

Mr. Fico returned to power in Slovakia after elections last September, leading a populist-nationalist coalition.

Mr. Fico was then forced to resign, amid huge protests.

His re-election was a major comeback on a platform that included promises to end military aid to kyiv and a veto of Ukraine’s NATO ambitions, as well as other speeches more reminiscent of Moscow than Brussels .

News Source : www.bbc.com
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