Plea Bargain Used in First Major Case in Slovenia
Three of the six men accused of armed robbery of a jewellery shop at the end of last year in Ljubljana, in which a 59-year-old clerk was shot dead, pleaded guilty to accessory to the crimes and got from three years and two months to four years and five months in jail.
The lawyer of one of the defendants, Boris Grobelnik, explained that the new legislation brought the possibility of a milder sentence in exchange for a guilty plea. This will shorten the court proceedings and decrease the courts' workload, he noted.
Blaž Mlinar Kovačič, the lawyer for another one of the defendants, said that the agreement reached between the defence and the prosecution had saved EUR 100,000 in court costs. "This is more than the government will save with some of its measures."
The other three defendants, including the pair charged with actually carrying out the robbery and killing the clerk, would not plead guilty, which is why Ljubljana District Judge Zvjezdan Radonjić set another pre-trial hearing for 19 June.
Leaving the courtroom, one of the three hinted they might reconsider.
District State Prosecutor Manja Prezelj said that even if no agreement was reached, the trial should not take long as "the evidence is clear".
The pleas cannot be withdrawn, as the confessions are clear and there is evidence to support them. The time spent in custody will count towards their prison sentence, while they will have to pay their part of the legal expanses, according to the prosecutor.
Prison sentences for robbery range from three to fifteen years.
The prosecutor said she would demand a much higher sentence for the two who stand accused of carrying out the robbery and murder. The minimum sentence for murder alone is 15 years, she noted.