The Slovenia Times

Justice Minister Reacts to Judicial System Fiasco


While Justice Minister Senko Pličanič said a probe into the court's decisions might be launched, Interior Minister Vinko Gorenak sees no reason to doubt the work of police.

Speaking at a press conference after a government session on Wednesday, Pličanič said he understood why the public was appalled by yesterday's ruling, which acquitted most of the defendants in the international drug smuggling case, including the alleged leader of the Slovenian arm of the ring.

He said the trial showed that "the Slovenian judiciary is not as effective as it should be", which "is additionally undermining people's trust in the state institutions".

Noting that he cannot comment on the concrete case, Pličanič said he can also take no action until the ruling, to which the prosecution appealed, becomes final. After that he plans to demand an internal investigation, but it will be up to the court to launch it.

The minister believes that the decision on whether the evidence collected in the case is permissible or not should have been made much sooner than two years into the trial.

"If the acquittal is the result of the illegally obtained evidence, I think the court should have decided on this much sooner than it did," he pointed out.

Pličanič believes the current legislation in this field is "fully comparable to other legal systems in EU member states". "But how the courts are implementing this legislation is another question."

Expecting a response for the judicial branch of power, Pličanič said he would like the judges to pinpoint a systemic problem or a flaw revealed by this case and explain to the public why the ruling was such and why certain proceedings take this long.

The president of the Ljubljana court, Anton Panjan, commented on the issue at a press conference today, saying that there were two reasons why the evidence was excluded so late in the trial. One is the extensiveness of the case and the other is the non-cooperativeness of the Serbian court.

The Ljubljana court's panel demanded all the relevant documents from the Serbian court in November 2011 but received them only on 23 October this year, he argued.

Panjan also pointed out that the task of the court was not to convict but to make a ruling and that its effectiveness could not be measured by the number of convictions it makes.

He deems the reaction of the public to the ruling legitimate but is bothered by the comments of "self-proclaimed experts" who have hinted to alleged bribery and house searches allegedly conducted against the president of the panel of judges.

He pointed out that there was not even the least indication that any of this was true and that some of the statements had been checked with the police.

Panjan also rejected the statement by former head of the Corruption Prevention Commission Drago Kos that Slovenia was lagging behind in the fight against the worst types of crime. He believes the contrary is true and that standards in judiciary have risen.

Supreme Court President Branko Masleša also commented on the matter, saying that Pličanič's statements were "a direct attempt to influence the judiciary and showed a complete misunderstanding of the principle of division of power".

He believes it was best if things calmed down, as the case moves to a higher court as part of an appeal.

Meanwhile, Interior Minister Gorenak said the court had decided to exclude key evidence after approving the covert methods of investigation used in the case, ruling on the justnesses of these methods on two accounts and having the evidence on its table for two years.

He added that there was no reason to doubt the professionalism of the police in the case.

Asked to assess the work of the prosecution, which failed to request that the defendants be remanded in custody pending a final ruling, Gorenak said State Prosecution General Zvonko Fišer would make such assessments and "we'll see what he'll establish".


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