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Suspect in shooting of Slovakia PM Robert Fico described as a ‘friendly, helpful neighbour’

“He must have gone crazy,” said Mile, who spoke of a “friendly, helpful neighbour” he has known since 1983 and last spoke to on Monday – just two days before his alleged attack on Prime Minister Robert Fico.

Security officers move Slovak PM Robert Fico in a car after the shooting. Photo: Reuters

“We all have our political opinions, but he never spoke about his forcefully,” said Mile, although he admitted that he was “against certain measures taken by the government” which came to power last year.

Mile, 68, said it was “not possible” that the Cintula he knew could have carried out a politically-motivated attack, describing him as a peaceful man fond of country walks with his wife.

Cintula, a father of two adult children, had been working as a security guard in a shopping centre in Levice but stopped a few years ago because of some health problems, he said.

Slovak media broadcast old footage of the man in which he could be seen speaking to a local television station in 2016 after being attacked by an angry client when he was working at a supermarket.

The footage showed a slim man with a salt and pepper beard covered in bruises on his face and arms.

A short time later, Cintula said in YouTube videos that he had founded a political movement “against violence”.

“The world is full of violence and weapons. People seem to be going crazy,” he said in one video.

He said he had founded a “Movement Against Violence” in Levice, whose Facebook page has 191 followers.

The flat of the alleged shooter. Photo: AFP

The page said it was “an emerging political party whose goal is to prevent the spread of violence in society. To prevent war in Europe and the spread of hatred”.

One of the last posts on the page was a video of a rally against the war in Ukraine.

He had also made online comments against immigration, and criticised European governments for not being able to counter “chaos”.

Mile said he spoke little with his neighbour about his other apparent interest – literature.

Cintula was an active member of the book club DUHA (Rainbow), according to its Facebook page.

The name of the club was chosen because “every artist has their style but together we can create more beauty”, one of the members of the club, who did not want to be named, said on Thursday.

The club is “strictly apolitical” and in a statement condemned as “an immense tragedy” Wednesday’s attack on Fico, which has left the prime minister in a serious condition with four gunshot wounds.

The suspect “has not attended any meetings or any events at the club since 2019 and none of his work has been published” since then, Duha said, adding that it had been “attacked” with hate messages since Wednesday.

On social media, a photo of the pensioner taken in 2016 with some members of a pro-Russian association close to the far-right has also prompted many questions.

He wrote on Facebook to praise them as “patriots” protecting the population. The paramilitary organisation halted its activities two years ago.

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