The Slovenia Times

Wolf Denies All Charges in Patria Trial


All five defendants in the case related to the 2006 defence contract with Finnish Patria turned up at court today, including PM-elect Janez Janša, who had excused himself from two previous hearings due to engagements related to the building of the new ruling coalition.

As Wolf, an alleged middleman in the deal, turned up after all, the chief prosecutor in the case, Andrej Ferlinc, withdrew his motion for the defendant to be taken into custody, which he made on 9 January.

Ferlinc summed up the part of the bill of indictment referring to Wolf, who denied the charges against him, arguing that his only role related to Patria was to suggest the company Rotis as the local partner to the Austrian businessman Wolfgang Riedl.

Wolf urged the prosecution to show him the documents proving the charges against him, criticising the author of the original bill of indictment, former prosecutor Branka Zobec Hrastar.

He insisted that he had nothing to hide, complaining that the trial was affecting his family and business, whose accounts he said had been blocked.

Judge Barbara Klanjšek interrupted the questioning by prosecutor several times due to defence lawyers' complaints that Ferlinc asked Wolf's opinion about e-mailing between third persons.

Asked about the electronic communication between Wolfgang Riedl and Patria official Reijo Niittynen, Wolf said the question should be put to Riedl.

Wolf also denied ever organising a meeting between Patria intermediaries and Janša, who served as prime minister in 2004-2008 at the time when Slovenia signed the 287m deal with Patria.

Since the prosecution repeated the question several times, Wolf said he would not answer their questions any more, while the judge told the prosecution they could have prepared better for the hearing.

Judge Klajnšek also read a transcription of Wolf's interrogation in Vienna.

Also taking stand today was Wolf's partner Edna Kernc, who said that the two of them communicated over the phone because Wolf did not know how to use e-mail. She labelled the relationship between Wolf and Riedl as friendship.

Janša, who is charged with receiving the offer of a bribe, left the court as soon as Wolf's hearing was over, without making any comments for the press.

But one of the co-defendants, Jože Zagožen, said that Wolf's statements suggested no guilt on the part of any of the co-defendants.

He was hopeful that now that Janša was appointed PM-elect "this pressure will end" and that the trial would proceed normal from now on.

Rotis boss Ivan Črnkovič repeated that the charges in the case were fabricated, arguing that the hearings were a new proof that "we carried out one of the most honest major deals in the country ever".

He said that those who lost the deal (the Slovenia-based company Sistemska tehnika) had through their leverage in politics orchestrated the trial.

Črnkovič urged the prosecution to withdraw the bill of indictment after hearing Defence Ministry staff.

Co-defendant Tone Krkovič said that there were "no longer any serious reasons" for the trial now that Janša became PM-elect as the main point of the case was to disable Janša.

The trial against the five defendants at the Ljubljana Local Court began on 5 September 2011 on charges of crimes related to giving or accepting bribes for illegal mediation in the selection procedure and purchase of 135 Patria-made armoured personnel carriers.


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