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Slovakia: Former Minister Charged With Thwarting Referendum

Bratislava, 1 March 1999 (RFE/RL) -- Slovak former interior minister Gustav Krajci has been formally charged with abuse of power and forging ballots in a 1997 referendum.

The interior ministry said today that Krajci is accused of trying to thwart a nationwide referendum, which included three questions on whether Slovakia should join NATO and a fourth on whether the president should be elected directly.

Before the vote, Krajci ordered the distribution of new ballots that omitted the critical fourth question on electing the president. Angered by the move, opposition members called for a boycott of the referendum, which later was deemed invalid.

In a human-rights report released Friday, the U.S. State Department called Krajci's actions "unconstitutional" and criticized the former Slovak government for granting amnesty to those involved in undermining the referendum.

A trial date for Krajci was not immediately known.