Suspect in assassination attempt on Slovak PM may not have been ‘lone wolf’, minister says

Officials in Slovakia are investigating whether the attacker who shot the prime minister was not a “lone wolf”.

The interior minister Matus Sutaj Estok issued the update on Sunday, after the suspect was previously believed to be a “lone wolf”.

Robert Fico’s condition is no longer life-threatening but is still very serious, his team said on Sunday.

Deputy prime minister Robert Kalinak issued the update four days after the assassination attempt on the populist leader.

Speaking to reporters outside the Banska Bystrica hospital, where Mr Fico is being treated, he said: “The worst that we feared had passed, at least for the time being.

“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.”

The prime minister, 59, was shot multiple times on Wednesday in an attack that raised fresh concern over the polarisation of politics in the central European country of 5.4 million people.

Mr Fico was shot in the abdomen as he greeted supporters – the first major assassination attempt on a European political leader for more than 20 years.

Video footage showed the Slovak premier approach people gathered at barricades and reach out to shake hands as a man stepped forward, extended his arm and fired five rounds before being tackled and arrested.

Mr Estok has previously said the suspect objected to the government’s Ukraine policy.

Mr 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 Slovak Specialised Criminal Court ruled on Saturday that the suspect, identified by prosecutors as Juraj C, should remain behind bars until the trial charged with attempted murder.

Prosecutors said they feared he could flee or commit other crimes if freed, a court spokesperson said.

The suspect can appeal the order, but so far no statement has been published by him or a lawyer on his behalf.

Little information about the would-be assassin has been made public, after prosecutors told police not to identify him or release details about the case.

Unconfirmed media reports said he is a 71-year-old former security guard and an amateur poet.

Meanwhile, Mr Kalinak, who is also Slovakia’s defence minister, said Mr Fico’s condition was still too serious to consider transferring him to a hospital in the capital.

Milan Urbani, deputy director of the Banska Bystrica hospital, told reporters that, as of Sunday morning: “The patient is currently out of a life-threatening condition”.

He added: “His condition remains very serious, and he needs a long time to rest to recover. We firmly believe that everything will go in a good direction.”

(Sky News)

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