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Slovakia’s constitutional court this week upheld a number of key provisions of a controversial amendment to the penal code that would weaken anti-corruption measures, changes that have raised concerns about the rule of law in the European Union member state, the Associated Press reported.

The amendments were introduced by Prime Minister Robert Fico and his cabinet earlier this year and were fast-tracked through parliament in February, bypassing the usual parliamentary debates.

The move sparked mass protests across the country and also caused alarm across the EU.

The amendments include the dissolution of the special prosecutor’s office handling severe crimes, reduced sentences for corruption, and shortened statutes of limitations.

Despite protests from thousands of Slovaks and concerns from the European Parliament about its implications for anti-corruption efforts, the country’s top court ruled Wednesday the changes were constitutional.

However, judges annulled a series of clauses that allowed the reopening of past plea deals and property seizures, Reuters noted.

Former President Zuzana Čaputová and opposition parties challenged the amendment, warning that it jeopardized the rule of law, but current President Peter Pellegrini supported the court’s decision. The court’s ruling also preserves the shift of serious crime cases to regional prosecutors who have not handled such cases for 20 years.

Prime Minister Fico, who recently survived an assassination attempt, hailed the ruling as a victory and demanded apologies from his critics.

Even so, EU officials feared these changes might weaken Slovakia’s ability to protect the EU’s financial interests and maintain a robust anti-corruption framework.

Fico’s fourth term began last October after his leftist party Smer won parliamentary elections, campaigning on pro-Russian and anti-American platforms.

His critics worry that Slovakia is shifting away from its pro-Western stance, similar to Hungary under Prime Minister Viktor Orbán.

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