Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Slovakia PM shooting: Friend of suspect recalls laughing with him just days before assassination attempt

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Mile L’Udovit is leaning on the front door of his apartment block when we meet, just as he has done so often since moving in four decades ago.

He was one of the original tenants of the tatty building and so was his dear friend Juraj Cintula – the man charged with trying to kill Slovakia’s prime minister.

Mile is at once shocked, bemused, appalled and bewildered.

“He’s a good friend,” he tells me. Both men are 71 years old and talked often. “He was a decent, polite man. A good worker. His wife is a professor and his kids were okay. He had a good reputation. Everything was okay.

“Nobody expected something like this to happen. No one could imagine it. That’s the worst thing about it.

“I spoke to him on Monday and we were having a laugh, like neighbours do. It’s so unpleasant.”

Image:
Suspect Juraj Cintula is the author of several poetry collections. Pic: ENEX

Building where the man who shot Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico reportedly lived, in Levice, Slovakia, Thursday, May 16, 2024. Pic: AP Photo/Denes Erdos
Image:
The apartment block where L’Udovit and Cintula have lived for decades. Pic: AP Photo/Denes Erdos

He shakes his head and gestures up to Cintula’s apartment on the top of the building. “He will either die or get a life sentence. It’s going to be so hard for his family.”

Cintula has not yet been officially identified as the suspect, but it’s common knowledge in Slovakia.

Read more:
PM Fico’s background, beliefs and politics
What we know about the shooting suspect

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Video shows moment Slovak PM was shot

Armed police even brought him back to the apartment, dressed in a bulletproof jacket and helmet, to help gather evidence. So why, I ask Mile, did his old friend try to kill Robert Fico?

“You know, I can’t really say,” he replies thoughtfully. “We took politics as something to laugh at. But we kept our own opinions – he had his, I had mine.

“He was opposed to certain acts of the government and his opinions were quite different. But what was in his mind? Really, nobody knows.”

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