Former Slovak police president and newly elected MP Tibor Gašpar has experienced a tumultuous period during the last three years. He was indicted and is still being prosecuted, but he moved up from ninth to sixth place on the back of 130 thousand preferential votes in the September election and comfortably became a member of the National Council.
You have been touted as the possible chief of the Slovak Information Service (SIS). Do you aspire to be more than "just" an MP?
The question of whether I might join another institution, such as the SIS, instead of being an MP is premature right now. Certain media outlets and opposition MPs have been spreading these ideas, and they are basing their assumptions primarily on the fact that I am seen as an expert on internal and international security in the SMER-SD political party. My whole career in the police force revolved around dealing with matters of security. I do want to keep utilizing my skillset in matters of Slovak security in service to the public.
What do you want to focus on the most in the National Council?
As stated in my response to your first question, I consider myself to be an expert on security matters, I would like to focus primarily on this area in the Parliament. I am interested in working on the Council's various committees that focus on internal and international security, and I want to contribute mainly to the drafting of legislation that affects the security of Slovakia in current conditions.
You were the police president between 2012 and 2018, you have been under prosecution since 2020, and then became an MP this year – that is quite a rollercoaster. Has the public perception of you changed?
I'll start my response to this question from the end. I received more than 130 thousand preferential votes in the election, which means that a large portion of the public entrusted me with a strong mandate as well as their faith as a future MP. There was also a time, of course, when the public perception of me was manipulated chiefly by certain mainstream media outlets, which are capable of purposely discrediting someone in the eyes of the public. It was exactly the biased approach of certain media outlets as well as acts of deliberate criminalization that made me want to keep working in public affairs and doing my best to ensure that such things never happen to other Slovak citizens. I must say in the same breath, however, that I was also displeased with the direction that Slovakia was taking under the leadership of the incumbent government. I care about what the lives of my children and grandchildren will be like.
How is the criminal case against you going?
A judge from the Specialized Criminal Court, who was assigned to investigate the charges against me filed by a prosecutor from the Special Prosecutor's Office in late 2021, is currently deciding on the next steps in the proceedings. There is a wide array of evidence proving that the entire prosecution process was conducted by biased law enforcement bodies who had tampered with cooperating witnesses. It was partly based on this evidence that – after becoming familiar with the criminal file, and in order to maintain a fair and just process – the SCC judge appealed to the Slovak Constitutional Court to rule on whether two specific laws do not contradict one another. However, the appeal was overruled by the Senate of the Supreme Court. I am waiting to see how things develop and I am prepared to defend my innocence by lawful means.
One could say that you've experienced police work from both sides. How do you feel about the current state of the Slovak police force and justice system?
A part of the Slovak police force, specifically the National Crime Agency (NAKA in Slovak – a specialized nationwide agency fighting serious crime) has been politicized and has taken orders from the ranks of politicians to criminalize opposition party members, specifically from the SMER-SD party. This has been happening on the watch of certain SPO prosecutors by way of manipulated criminal proceedings. All of that needs to change, and we need to bring back the rule of law into these law enforcement agencies.
Tibor Gašpar (born April 23, 1962, in Kežmarok) is a former police president and newly elected member of the National Council of the Slovak Republic, where he has been appointed chairman of the Defense and Security Committee.
In 1987, he graduated from the Comenius University Bratislava Faculty of Physical Education. He started working as a primary school teacher in Nitra and then as a lecturer at the Constantine the Philosopher University Nitra Faculty of Education.
He joined the police force in 1993, which is when he also enrolled at the Academy of the Police Force in Bratislava. He started as a detective, working his way up to deputy chief of the Nitra Police Force Regional Office and director of the Bureau of Judicial and Criminal Police in Nitra (2003–2005).
In 2005, he became the director of the Anti-Corruption Bureau and, three years later, was promoted to the rank of general. In May 2012, he was named president of the Slovak Police Force, which is a position he held until 2018. He then spent a little under a year as an advisor to the minister of interior at the time Denisa Saková.
In November 2020, he was indicted under the "Purgatory" case; the prosecution is still ongoing. Gašpar was co-opted into the NC SR in the September election.