The Slovenia Times

Patria Case Statute Barred


The prosecution has eight days to lodge an appeal against the decision. It said it was still examining the reasoning and would decide as necessary.

The decision by Local Court judge Tanja Lombar Jenko, who received the case after the Constitutional Court ordered a retrial in April, was expected, though there was some uncertainty about the actual limit.

Under the previous criminal code, valid when the alleged corruption crimes were committed in 2005, the case would become statute barred within ten years from the alleged crime.

Under the current, revised criminal code, cases become statute barred within two years after a final judgement has been repealed.

However, there is also a section of the criminal code stipulating that legislation which is more favourable for defendants must be applied - in this case the old criminal code.

The case refers to the purchase of armoured personnel carriers from Finnish contractor Patria, originally a EUR 275m deal that was later downsized, not least due to the corruption scandal.

Janša, leader of the opposition Democrats (SDS) and at the time of the alleged crimes prime minister, responded on Twitter that "the big bang from Murgle has petered out".

This is a reference to his long-standing claim that the entire scandal was orchestrated by Milan Kučan, the former Slovenian president, who lives in the Ljubljana borough Murgle.

Janša's lawyer Franci Matoz moreover said in a statement for public broadcaster Radio Slovenija that he might challenge the decision. He has said previously that it was in Janša's interest that the case would not fall under the statue of limitations.

The Committee 2014, a civil society outfit formed as a pressure group last year demanding that the charges against Janša and other defendants be dropped, said "all prosecutors and judges, violators of human rights, should now resign".

Committee 2014 president Aleš Primc held a press conference in the afternoon, saying that this was a great day for Slovenia and Janša.

Moreover, the decision proves that all three men were innocent, said Primc. The fact that the prosecution failed to prove them guilty in a decade is proof that "they are even more innocent than they would have been if there was no trial", Primc claims.

Despite the decision, Committee 2014 will continue to hold weekly rallies in front of the Supreme Court, demanding changes in the judiciary. Among other things they want the resignations of Supreme Court President Branko Masleša and State Prosecutor General Zvonko Fišer.

The defence attorneys for Krkovič and Črnkovič said the decision was expected.

The Justice Ministry, on the other hand, expressed regret that the case has become statute barred. "It is not good if any cases become statute barred, this does not enhance trust in the justice system."

Accordingly, the ministry welcomed the reform of the penal code which extends the statute of limitations, though it cannot reply retroactively.


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