Slovak president sacks secret service boss after abuse of power charges

FILE PHOTO: Ukraine's President Zelenskiy visits Slovakia

PRAGUE (Reuters) - Slovak President Zuzana Caputova sacked counter-intelligence service SIS chief Michal Alac on Wednesday, her office said, after police charged him with conspiring to abuse power.

Police charged Alac and other high-ranking officials in the security community last week with forming a criminal group and conspiring to interfere with corruption investigations, in a case that has emerged just weeks ahead of an early election.

Alac said over the weekend that presumption of innocence should be applied and he did not see a reason to quit, Slovak news website reported.

Caputova fired Alac on recommendation of the government, the presidential office said, following a process set in the law.

The scandal is another in a string of investigations in security and law enforcement services over the past few years, with some including rival branches investigating each other.

The European Union and NATO member country is governed by a caretaker cabinet after the previous ruling coalition succumbed to infighting and lost the confidence of parliament in December.

Slovaks will hold an early election on Sept. 30.

Polls favour the Smer-SD party, led by former prime minister Robert Fico, to win the next election.

Fico, whose previous rule ended in 2018 amid demonstrations against corruption after the murder of an investigative journalist, has harshly criticised the charges against Alac and others, saying they amounted to a police coup involving the president.

(Reporting by Jan Lopatka; Editing by Bill Berkrot)