Factbox-What we know so far about Slovak PM Fico’s attacker

By Thomson Reuters May 16, 2024 | 3:50 AM

BANSKA BYSTRICA, Slovakia (Reuters) – Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico was in a “very serious” but stable condition in an intensive care unit on Thursday, a hospital official said, a day after being shot five times at close range in an assassination attempt.

Slovak police have charged Fico’s suspected attacker with attempted murder, tvnoviny.sk reported on Thursday.

While much remains unclear about the attack, below are some details about the suspect.

* Slovak media have said the suspected assailant, who was apprehended at the scene, is a 71-year-old man. The gunman fired five bullets at the 59-year-old prime minister as he greeted supporters following a government meeting in the small town of Handlova in central Slovakia.

* The motive for the attack remains unclear, though Interior Minister Matus Sutaj Estok said the assassination attempt was politically motivated and that the “perpetrator’s decision was born closely after the presidential election”.

An ally of Fico, Peter Pellegrini, won a fiercely contested presidential election last month.

* The suspect is a former security guard at a shopping mall, the author of three collections of poetry and a member of the Slovak Society of Writers, Slovak media have reported.

* A member of the Rainbow Literary Club in Levice told Reuters she knew the suspect, saying he had been one of its founding members and its chairman for a time. In a statement, the club condemned the attack and said that as a strictly apolitical group it had revoked the assailant’s membership “with immediate effect”.

* In an undated video posted on Facebook, the suspected attacker was seen saying “I do not agree with government policy”. Reuters verified that the person in the video matched images of the man arrested after Fico’s shooting.

* The suspect lived in the town of Levice, due south of Handlova, where the attack occurred, and east of the capital Bratislava, local media reported.

* News outlet Aktuality.sk cited his son as saying on Wednesday that his father was the legal holder of a gun licence. “I have absolutely no idea what my father intended, what he planned, what happened,” it quoted the son as saying.

The son said that all he could say about his father’s views about Fico was that he did not vote for him. He also said his father was not a psychiatric patient.

(Reporting by Jan Lopatka and Karol Badohal; writing by Niklas Pollard; Editing by Gareth Jones)