News 2015

Constitutional Court’s decision confirmed that Patria case was a political process all along

23.04.2015

The Slovenian Constitutional Court unanimously decided earlier today that the opposition leader Janez Janša is innocent as regards to the charges made against him in the so-called Patria case. The Constitutional Court annulled the judgement of the District, Higher and Supreme Courts and remanded the case to the first instance. In its judgment, the Constitutional Court found clear violations of the Constitution and the violation of the right to a fair trial. Judgement states that "no individual can be sentenced for a supposed act that is not defined by a law as a criminal act." With that the Constitutional Court seriously questioned the impartiality and independence of the Slovenian justice. The decision finally served justice which now also officially proves - that the Patria case was a politically motivated process from the very beginning.

The Patria affair was no coincidence - A short chronology of the Patria process

The Finnish company Patria Vehicles Oy was chosen with a public tender by the Slovenian government, led by the Prime Minister Janez Janša. Drago Kos, who was at the time the president of the anti-corruption commission, “exported” the affair to Finland. Mr Kos, whose brother is strongly connected with the competing bidder company, which was not selected in the public tender, requested a hearing with the Finnish security authorities on 10 April 2008. He stated that anti-corruption commission did not detect any involvement of Mr Janša in the Patria affair, but nevertheless strongly insinuated that Mr Janša could be involved in the wrongdoings by linking him to the people, he characterised as “suspicious”.

On 27 August 2008, the weekly newspaper closely linked to the former president of the Slovenian Communist Party Milan Kučan, has published an article, which stated: “Milan Kučan is preparing THE big bang.”

On 1 September 2008, only five days after the prediction of Mr Kučan’s "big bang" and exactly twenty days before the parliamentary elections (1st elections affected by the Patria affair), which according to the polls was predicted to have been a victory for the Slovenian Democratic Part (SDS), the Finnish state television channel YLE launched the “Patria affair”. The “documentary” without single evidence accused the Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Janša of taking a bribe from the Patria Company. In August 2010, less than three months before the local elections (2nd elections affected by the Patria affair), the prosecutor Branka Zobec Hrastar, a wife of the former communist secret police agent who had arrested Janez Janša in 1988, filed a bill of indictment against him. In September 2011, only two months before the parliamentary elections (3rd elections affected by the Patria affair), the main hearing of the District Court began. On 5 June 2013 Janez Janša was sentenced to two years in prison, with explanation that he “received a promise of unknown award for the benefit of other people - at an undetermined date, at an undetermined place and through an undetermined method of communication.” On 28 April 2014, less than a month before the elections to the European Parliament (4th elections affected by the Patria affair), the Higher Court confirmed the judgement, with explanation that this judgement was based on “circumstantial evidence”. The Court "did not identify decisive facts based on direct evidence, but rather on a basis of circumstantial evidence, the so-called clues. That means, that the Court concludes veracity of unknown fact based on known fact,” stated the Higher Court. On 20 June 2014, merely 24 days before the early parliamentary elections (5th elections affected by the Patria affair), the president of the SDS was jailed.

Strong international support for the Slovenian Democratic Party

Throughout the Patria process, the SDS enjoyed strong international support. The Political Assembly of the EPP unanimously adopted the Resolution on the situation in Slovenia on 13 November 2013. Full support was expressed to the SDS and the expectation that fundamental human right to a fair trial will be respected in the appeal procedure. The EPP also demanded an impartial and independent Slovenian judiciary and called for a strict implementation of the lustration. Strong support statements also came from many prominent members of the EPP 1, IDU and YEPP, as well many European and global NGO’s, prominent domestic and foreign legal experts, including Professors of Law and Constitutional Judges. 

Consequences and an opportunity to reform

The price Slovenia paid for selective justice is enormous. During 2008-2015 period, Slovenian GDP dropped by 7.5 % and the public debt has risen from 8 to 30 billion Euros. Slovenia is currently spending twice the amount of yearly economic growth only to pay the borrowing interests. The Slovenian economy has lost almost 100.000 jobs and thousands of educated young people left the country.

Since 2004, when Slovenia joined the EU, the Constitutional Court and European Court for Human Rights have together cancelled more than 600 decisions of Slovenian courts on the basis of serious violations of human rights. Top positions in Slovenian judiciary are still occupied by former communist apparatchiks who grossly violated human rights in the totalitarian regime. Most visible are President of the Supreme Court Branko Masleša and the Attorney General Zvonko Fišer. As a prosecutor under the communist regime, Mr Fišer persecuted people who paid tribute to the memory of deceased relatives in the mass-murders carried out by the Titoist Army during and after the World War II. As a judge in the communist regime Mr Masleša 2 imposed the last death penalty. Today, the need to reform Slovenian judiciary is more obvious that in has ever been before. 3

1 See the highlights of support to SDS President Janez Janša on: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hGZyA3V6TYk

2 For more on Masleša, see the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AxCQbPZw4JA

3 For a  better understanding please see the “Slovenia 25 years later documentary” on: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3kgjlmbHd-I and the “Mask of Democracy” documentary on: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CV6rAibFmtg