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BRATISLAVA, Slovakia (AP) — Former Prime Minister Robert Fico faces criminal charges in Slovakia, police said Wednesday.

Police said in a brief statement that former Fico interior minister Robert Kalinak has also been charged in the same case. Police did not immediately provide further details.

Their attorney, David Lindtner, said they were charged with creating a criminal group.

Prime Minister Eduard Heger said he hoped the decision to charge Fico and Kalinak was supported by evidence. He said it was an autonomous decision by law enforcement.

Fico is currently a member of his left-wing opposition party Smer-Social Democracy. Police have yet to ask parliament to lift immunity rules and allow him to be detained.

Kalinak currently works as a lawyer.

Lindtner said they view the charges as politically motivated.

“We consider this a political attack on opposition representatives,” Lindtner told Slovak media.

Fico was expected to react at a press conference later Wednesday.

The current four-party coalition government has made the fight against corruption a key political issue. Since taking power after the 2020 general election, a number of senior civil servants, police officers, judges, prosecutors, politicians and businessmen have been accused of corruption and other crimes.

Fico, considered a populist politician, served as prime minister between 2006 and 2010, and again between 2012 and 2018.

He resigned after the 2018 murders of an investigative journalist, Jan Kuciak, and his fiancée, Martina Kusnirova.

Kuciak was investigating possible government corruption when he was killed. The killings sparked massive street protests not seen since the 1989 Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia and a political crisis that led to the collapse of the government.

The Associated Press