BRATISLAVA: Slovakia’s health minister said on Saturday the prognosis for Prime Minister Robert Fico was “positive” after an assassination attempt as a court put the suspected gunman in pre-trial detention.

Fico has been in hospital since Wednesday when a lone gunman shot him four times, including in the abdomen. He underwent a five-hour surgery on Wednesday and another surgery on Friday, both at a hospital in the central Slovak city of Banska Bystrica.

“Yesterday’s surgery, which took two hours, contributed to a positive prognosis of the prime minister’s health condition,” Health Minister Zuzana Dolinkova told reporters.

“The prime minister’s condition is stable, but despite this it’s still serious,” she added.

The suspected gunman, identified by Slovak media as 71-year-old poet Juraj Cintula, was placed in pre-trial detention by a special penal court in Pezinok northeast of the capital Bratislava on Saturday.

“The reason... is concerns about a potential escape or that the criminal activity may continue,” court spokeswoman Katarina Kudjakova said. The decision followed a request from a prosecutor made Friday. Cintula had been charged with a premeditated murder attempt earlier. Fico was shot as he was walking to greet supporters after a government meeting in the central mining town of Handlova.

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

Defence minister and deputy premier Robert Kalinak, Fico’s closest political ally, said the prime minister was conscious and his condition allowed him to recover.

“I don’t think he could be taken to Bratislava in the coming days, his condition is still serious,” he told reporters outside the hospital.

Published in Dawn, May 19th, 2024

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