The Slovenia Times

Higher Court upholds SD's EUR 10,000 libel claim against Janša


Ljubljana - The ruling ordering opposition Democrats (SDS) head Janez Janša to pay EUR 10,000 in damages and apologise to the coalition Social Democrats (SD) for claiming the party operated from a "stolen Jewish villa" has become final.

The SocDems said on Wednesday that the Celje Higher Court ruling on Janša's appeal against the October 2021 verdict of the Velenje Local Court was of great significance since "Janša has once again been faced with accountability for his lying statements".

"The higher court has also ascertained that Janša knew about the deceitful content of his claims, but would still maliciously post them. By failing to pick up writs from court, Janša demonstrates his contempt for the state and the rule of law," the SD wrote, quoting the party's secretary general Dejan Levanič.

Apart from paying the damages, which the SD announced would go for charity, Janša has also been ordered to cover the litigation costs of just over EUR 800.

The local court held that while political parties need to show a higher degree of tolerance of criticism, Janša crossed the line of respect for the rights of others by knowingly and deliberately writing down untruthful insulting claims.

Janša suggested in October that the court was biased. "This is the practice of the Velenje court, which is packed with a cronyist line of members or supporters of the Social Democrats and hands out judgements without hearings and without affording the option of defence," he wrote.

"To make the farce complete, the court in this concrete case judged a lawsuit brought by the Social Democrats. This is something that even courts martial in the former Yugoslavia did not do," he added in a statement that was met with strong criticism from several judicial institutions and organisations, including the Supreme Court.

The Judges' Association said that the statement by the then Prime Minister Janša was "inadmissibly derogatory towards the judges of the said court and towards the court as a fundamental institution of the rule of law".

Janša dismissed the lawsuit in a Twitter post today as "disgrace upon disgrace" for the Slovenian judiciary, as he repeated his often stated claim that the courts are working hand in hand with the SD.

"Not only do they participate in the same party events, in Velenje they even reside at the same address. Coordination of 'independent judgements' can thus take place during office hours and off work," he said.

The villa claims made by Janša had a strong effect as the European Jewish Association subsequently called on the party to right a historic injustice and return the villa to the Slovenian Jewish community. It alleged the property had been sold "under questionable conditions, nationalized, and then used by high-level communist party organizations during the Yugoslav era."

However, the SD said at the time the villa had been owned by the state before the party took ownership in exchange for another building that the party had owned before.

The villa used to be owned by Jewish merchant Felix Moskovic, who was killed in a German extermination camp. A woman who bought it from an heir of the family sold it to the state in 1961.


More from Politics