Slovakia’s PM Robert Fico ‘nearing a positive prognosis’ as suspected shooter appears in court

Fico (59) was attacked and suffered multiple gunshot wounds on Wednesday

The man accused of attempting to assassinate Slovak prime minister Robert Fico has made his first court appearance as the politician remained in a serious condition recovering from surgery after surviving multiple gunshots, Slovak state media has said.

Mr Fico (59) was attacked as he greeted supporters following a government meeting on Wednesday in the former coal mining town of Handlova.

The suspect, who was tackled to the ground and arrested, appeared at the Specialised Criminal Court on Saturday where prosecutors sought an order to detain him further.

Media were banned from the court hearing.


Minister for health Zuzana Dolinkova said Mr Fico’s condition was stable but serious on Saturday after a two-hour surgery on Friday to remove dead tissue from multiple gunshot wounds.

“We are succeeding in gradually nearing a positive prognosis,” deputy prime minister Robert Kaliniak said in front of the hospital in the town of Banka Bystrica where the prime minister is being treated.

“In the initial hours, the prognosis was very, very bad, you know that shots into the abdomen are basically fatal, in this case (the doctors) managed to overturn this state and further stabilise the condition.”

Fico still faced a “big risk” of complications, Kalinak said. “The body’s reaction to a shooting wound is always very serious and brings (the risk of) a number of complications, which lasts for 4-5 days, which is today and tomorrow.”

Prosecutors told police not to publicly identify the suspect or release other details about the case, but unconfirmed media reports said the man was a 71-year-old retiree known as an amateur poet who may have once worked as a shopping centre security guard.

Government authorities gave details that matched that description, adding the suspect did not belong to any political groups, although the attack itself was politically motivated.

Police wearing balaclavas and carrying rifles guarded the courthouse in Pezinok, a small town outside the capital, Bratislava.

Officers had taken the suspect to his home in the town of Levice on Friday and seized a computer and some documents, according to local media.

Miriam Lapunikova, the director of the University FD Roosevelt hospital in Banska Bystrica, where Mr Fico was taken by helicopter after he was shot, said he was awake and stable in an intensive care unit.

Mr Fico has long been a divisive figure in Slovakia and beyond. His return to power last year on a pro-Russia, anti-American platform led to worries among fellow European Union and Nato members that he would abandon his country’s pro-western course, particularly on Ukraine.

At the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion in February 2022, Slovakia was one of Ukraine’s staunchest supporters, but Mr Fico halted arms deliveries to Ukraine when he returned to power, his fourth time serving as prime minister.

Thousands of demonstrators have repeatedly rallied in the capital and around the country of 5.4 million to protest against his policies. – AP/Reuters