The Slovenia Times

Patria Scandal: From Plans to Equip Army to Verdicts and Retrial


13 July 2004: Parliament passes a long-term programme on the development of the Slovenian Armed Forces which sets down a purchase of 135 armoured personnel carriers (APCs). The 8x8 military vehicles would be the core combat means of motorised battalions.

20 August 2004: The Defence Ministry and Slovenian company Viator&Vektor sign a letter of intent stating that Viator&Vektor could be an appropriate partner in supplying the Slovenian Armed Forces with light and mid-sized armoured vehicles.

12 June 2006: Following a call, Rotis, the Slovenian company representing the Finnish defence contractor Patria, is chosen by the Defence Ministry to supply 8x8 armoured personnel carriers.

19 December 2006: The Defence Ministry, Rotis and Patria sign a EUR 278 million contract on the supply of 135 APCs and a deal on counter-supplies and the cooperation of Slovenian companies in the deal.

13 May 2008: The Finnish police arrest two persons as part of an investigation into Patria's giving bribes to officials to secure defence contracts with Slovenia and Egypt.

2 September 2008: The Finnish TV channel YLE runs a documentary dubbed The Truth about Patria, saying that Slovenian PM Janez Janša was bribed. Janša files a lawsuit, which is pending.

25 March 2009: Police carry out several house searches around Slovenia. A few days later, the police forces of Slovenia, Finland and Austria sign an agreement to set up a joint commission to facilitate the exchange of Patria-related data in their investigations.

15 December 2009: The Slovenian group of prosecutors for organised crime files changes against ex-Defence Minister Karl Erjavec, who signed the deal with Patria on behalf of the government in December 2006, and against ex-Chief-of-the-General Staff Albin Gutman over misfeasance in office. Both are acquitted in 2011.

5 September 2011: A trial against Janša, former boss of Slovenian power utility HSE Jože Zagožen, Canada-based businessman Walter Wolf of Slovenian descent, Rotis owner Ivan Črnkovič and military official Tone Krkovič begins at the Ljubljana Local Court on charges of giving or receiving bribes for unlawful mediation during the selection and purchase of the APCs. All plead not guilty. Zagožen and Wolf are later excluded from the trial, the former for illness and the latter for being in Canada and not attending the trial, a reason why an international arrest warrant is issued after him.

18 January 2012: A trial against five suspects charged with bribery and industrial espionage starts at the Vienna Provincial Court in Austria, which on 5 April 2013 sentences Austrian businessman Wolfgang Riedl to three years in prison for several accounts, including giving kickbacks in Slovenia. Three suspects are acquitted, while a verdict for Walter Wolf is not handed as he is absent due to health reasons.

5 September 2012: The Defence Ministry renegotiates the 2006 contract with Rotis and Patria, meaning that Slovenia will buy no more APCs than the 30 it has already been delivered. However, this is not enough to form a mid-sized battalion.

18 December 2012: The Finnish prosecution charges six former top Patria officials with bribery and industrial espionage in selling APCs to Slovenia. All suspects (Jorma Wiitakorpi, Reijo Niittynen, Heikki Hulkkonen, Jarmo Puputti, Tuomas Korpi and Kai Nurmo) plead not guilty at a preliminary hearing on 15 May 2013, with the trail starting in August 2013.

15 May 2013: A preliminary hearing starts at the Ljubljana District Court in another, related Patria trial; retired Brigadier Peter Zupan is charged with unlawful leaking of information and pleads not guilty, while painter Jure Cekuta, who allegedly solicitated Zupan to abuse office, fails to appear in court before the trial starts.

27 May 2013: Judge Barbara Klajnšek completes the presentation of evidence in the Patria trial, which is followed by closing arguments. Supreme State Prosecutor Andrej Ferlinc demands a 24-month prison sentence for Janša and 22 months for Krkovič and for Črnkovič. Janša's lawyer Franci Matoz says the charges against Janša are "totally unprovable".

5 June 2013: Janša, Krkovič and Črnkovič are found guilty on charges of giving and receiving gifts to select Patria for the supply of armoured vehicles for the Slovenian army. Janša is sentenced to two years in prison, while Krkovič and Črnkovič get 22 months each.

30 January 2014: A Finnish court acquits five former Patria officials of charges that they bribed Slovenian representatives in order to win the EUR 278m APC deal for a lack of evidence.

14 April 2014: Painter Jure Cekuta is sentenced to four years and four months in prison and retired Defence Ministry official Peter Zupan gets two years and a half as the third Patria-related trial in Slovenia draws to a close at the Ljubljana District Court. The pair are found guilty of leaking in 2005 sensitive information about defence procurement plans to Patria.

28 April 2014: The Higher Court upholds the ruling of the Ljubljana Local Court sentencing Janša to two years in prison and Krkovič and Črnkovič each to 22 months. The ruling becomes final.

20 June 2014: Accompanied by some 3,000 supporters, Janša arrives in Dob prison to start serving his two-year prison sentence.

6 November 2014: The Supreme Court turns down the extraordinary appeal by Janša against the conviction, whereupon Janša takes his case to the Constitutional Court for review three weeks later.

15 October 2014: The National Assembly strips Janša of his MP status on the basis of the deputies act, which stipulates that the term of an MP sentenced to more than six months in prison shall be terminated. In late November, the Constitutional Court stays the parliamentary decision pending a final decision on Janša's petition.

12 December 2014: The Constitutional Court issues a temporary injunction on Janša's two-year prison sentence until it makes a final decision on his appeal against the conviction. As a result, Janša is released from prison.

23 April 2015: The Constitutional Court unanimously repeals the guilty verdicts against Janša and both co-defendants, ordering a retrial at the Local Court under a new judge. This means that Janša will not return to jail, while Krkovič and Črnkovič will be released.


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