The Slovenia Times

Andreja Katič returns as justice minister

Andreja Katič, the new justice minister. Photo: Anže Malovrh/STA

Andreja Katič, a 54-year old jurist, was appointed Slovenia's justice minister on 5 March, returning to the post she held in the government of current Defence Minister Marjan Šarec between 2018 and 2020. Previously, she also served as defence minister.

Katič, a longstanding senior member of the Social Democrats (SD), succeeds international law expert Dominika Švarc Pipan, who was forced to resign for signing a controversial €7.7 million deal to purchase a rundown building meant to house court offices, more than four-times what the seller paid for it in 2019.

The vote on Katič's endorsement at the National Assembly was held just as the National Bureau of Investigation was conducting house searches in connection to the controversial deal at a number of locations, including the Justice Ministry.

Unofficially, the suspects include ministry staff sacked by Švarc Pipan, the seller and the property appraiser. Švarc Pipan claimed she had been mislead into signing the contract by ministry staff who colluded with SD members. She did not resign before conducting her own probe and producing a report.

Having been sworn in, Katič said she had not yet been informed of the details, but she expected to get briefed as soon as she formally took over from her predecessor. She repeated on several occasions that she would not be sweeping the matter under the carpet.

She indicated that her first priority would be tackling the Constitutional Court ruling on judicial pay, with a bill to that effect expected to be ready by the summer. She is planning to meet the president of the Supreme Court and other representatives of the judiciary over the matter later in the week.

In debate, opposition MPs made it clear she did not enjoy their support, but MPs on both sides of the political aisle expressed the expectation that she would get to the bottom of the court building scandal and make sure those responsible are held to account.

Coalition MPs urged tackling issues in judiciary, including by implementing the Constitutional Court's decision regarding judge pay and stepping up the fight against corruption. Both the parties and Prime Minister Robert Golob praised Katič for her experience.

The largest opposition party, the Democrats (SDS) argued Katič did understand the burning issues in judiciary. They do not trust her to make a true effort to address corruption, and are sceptical about the bill she announced to tackle judicial pay.

After Interior Minister Boštjan Poklukar, Katič is the second member of the Šarec minority government to be reinstalled as a replacement in the Golob government. Along with Šarec and Infrastructure Minister Alenka Bratušek, the current government includes four members of the 2018-2020 cabinet.

Katič graduated from the Maribor Faculty of Law in 1996. She was active in local politics in Velenje before being elected MP in 2014. In 2015-2018 she served as defence minister and most recently as a state secretary at the Ministry of Cohesion and Regional Development.

When the Robert Golob government was assuming office in 2022, she was rumoured to be the SD's first choice for justice minister, but Švarc Pipan was appointed in the end, with unofficial sources indicating it was Golob who preferred the latter.

In her pre-confirmation hearing, Katič listed priorities such as efforts to address the lack of space at prisons and courts, draft changes to the penal code, the criminal procedure law and changes to prevent high-profile cases from becoming statute-barred, and the fight against corruption. She also plans to criminalise female genital mutilation and combat SLAPP suits.


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