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Tape Recording Appears to Link Interior Minister to Kidnapping

May 14, 1996

BRATISLAVA, Slovakia (AP) _ A recorded telephone conversation that mysteriously surfaced at a radio station appears to implicate Slovakia’s interior minister in the kidnapping of the president’s son and the death of a private investigator.

Interior Minister Milan Hudek indirectly confirmed the authenticity of the tape Monday, telling Slovak television that ``someone else must have″ recorded his conversation with Slovak Intelligence Service chief Ivan Lexa.

In the profanity-laden exchange, a man sounding like Hudek tells another man, who sounds like Lexa, that an investigator will be done away with.

``We will give (the investigator) a kick″ in the private parts, the first voice says, prompting a promise of a ``kiss on your forehead″ from the second man, followed by mutual laughter.

The first voice then says police investigating the kidnapping are ``idiots.″

The Aug. 31, 1995, kidnapping of President Michal Kovac’s son, who is wanted in Germany on suspicion of fraud, has sharply split politicians in Slovakia, a country of about 5 million people that gained independence three years ago in the breakup of Czechoslovakia.

Kovac supporters believe it was an attempt to discredit him; they accuse Lexa of ordering the kidnapping on behalf of Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar, who is locked in a fierce political struggle with Kovac.

Meciar loyalists deny any involvement.

The president’s son, Michal, was abducted, beaten and force-fed whiskey, and he woke up in a hospital across the border in Austria. Slovakia has no extradition treaty with Germany, but Austria does. However, an Austrian court found reason to believe that the younger Kovac was brought to Austria against his will and refused to extradite him.

Robert Remias, a former policeman who helped link the kidnapping to the Slovak Intelligence Service, was killed in April in a suspicious car explosion.

The recording was first broadcast Monday evening by Radio Twist, a private station often critical of the government. Employees said the tape had suddenly appeared in their offices.

About 8,000 opposition protesters on Tuesday demanded Interior Minister Hudek’s resignation.

Milan Knazko, a former Meciar ally now with the opposition Democratic Union, said the opposition would ask for Hudek’s resignation at a session of Parliament starting Wednesday.

Update hourly