The Slovenia Times

Police commissioner replaced

Slovenian police flag. Photo: Nebojša Tejić/STA

The government has dismissed acting Police Commissioner Boštjan Lindav and appointed Senad Jušić to replace him just days after the appointment of a new interior minister, a move that some see as a dereliction of the government's stated aim to depoliticise the police.

Unknown in the general public, Jušić is a senior adviser at the General Police Department and has served as deputy head of the Koper Police Department's criminal police sector.

A career police officer, he joined the force in 1991 and "walked his way almost through the entire police", Interior Minister Boštjan Poklukar said after the appointment on 23 February.

While he was tight-lipped about a potential replacement at the helm of the police when appointed in parliament earlier this week, Poklukar said that just like every other minister he is allowed by law to choose his closest team. "And I chose mine so that it will implement the goals for which I received a majority in parliament."

In his first statement to the press, Jušić said he was a career policeman and had taken the job with full responsibility, while describing himself as a man of dialogue. He said the police are in good shape and will continue to provide for security and fundamental liberties of all Slovenian residents.

Its current priorities are directed towards getting adjusted to Croatia's Schengen entry in terms of organisation and staff, and towards implementing guidelines about the priority treatment of acts of corruption that new Interior Minister Poklukar outlined after he was elected, Jušić added.

Lindav led the police in acting capacity since the Robert Golob government took power in June 2022, as Minister Tatjana Bobnar's proposal for his full-fledged appointment fell through in December.

When she resigned over alleged political meddling in police staffing, Bobnar said Golob "made it clear to me that Lindav did not meet the expectations as he did not purge the police force".

Lindav issued a written statement expressing confidence he had led the police in the right direction and was leaving with good results. However, he also said that he had apparently "expected too much" when it came to the understanding that the police must be guaranteed independence from politics.

Jušić is initially taking over in an acting capacity for six months. In this period Poklukar would like to change the law on the police organisation to expand the range of experts that could apply for the job to experts from the judiciary, prosecution and other security bodies.

The new government has insisted that the police must be depoliticised after a turbulent era during the previous, Janez Janša government, when the force was widely seen as having been merely an extension of the government, in particular when it came to its heavy-handed policing of anti-government protests.

Earlier this week, a parliamentary inquiry into suspected political meddling in the police was launched, covering both the period under the previous government and the current government - up until the point when the commission was launched.

Janša's Democrats have staunchly rejected such views and Janša himself has now described the appointment of Jušić as "further politicisation of the Slovenian police".

New Slovenia, the smaller opposition party, expects Poklukar to dismiss "staff that is not to the liking of the ruling coalition". "He obviously replaced an expert with an obedient clerk, who will be even more dependent on his superiors," MP Vida Čadonič Špelič said.

Commentators expressed disappointment about the move. "The developments in recent days and months do not raise hope for more stability in the police force. Poklukar ... is considered a loyal employee who will have no problem demanding that police fulfil the wishes of the prime minister and his close associates," says a commentary in the newspaper Dnevnik.

Delo, a broadsheet, meanwhile expects that Jušić will do what his predecessor refused to do - allow political staffing.


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