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Slovakia: Officials Release Meciar After Short Detention

Bratislava, 20 April 2000 (RFE/RL) - Slovak police investigators this afternoon released former Prime Minister Vladmir Meciar, several hours after detaining him by force. Police wanted to question Meciar concerning a charge of abuse of public office for allegedly having made illegal payments to his ministers. In recent weeks, Meciar repeatedly declined to accept a summons for questioning. Members of a masked special police unit used explosives this morning to gain entry to Meciar's villa in the western Slovak spa town of Trencianske Teplice.

Meciar surrendered without a struggle and was taken to Bratislava for questioning. His defense lawyers say he refused to answer the interrogators' questions and was later released.

Slovak President Rudolf Schuster met at midday with three leading members of Meciar's populist party (Movement for a Democratic Slovakia) and summoned Interior Minister Ladislav Pittner and chief investigator General Jaroslav Ivor for talks.