EPPO expresses concern about proposed penal code changes

Luxembourg – The European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) has expressed concern about proposed changes of the penal code in Slovenia which it said could affect the efficiency of the EPPO.

The statement on Thursday came after Slovenia’s State Prosecutor General Drago Šketa held talks with European Chief Prosecutor Laura Kovesi.

“The visit took place in light of extremely worrying media reports about legislative changes that could affect the effective functioning of the EPPO in Slovenia,” the EPPO said.

Šketa attended a meeting with Kovesi to discuss the possible consequences of the proposed changes to the penal code in Slovenia, which would seek to shorten periods of limitation in white-collar crime cases.

The changes, disavowed by the majority of the parties since they were confirmed by the Justice Committee, state that prosecution is not possible after two years have passed since the police had carried out the first investigation on the basis of a judge’s order before the start of criminal proceedings.

“If the changes were adopted as proposed, prosecutors would have drastically less time to investigate the vast majority of crimes under the EPPO’s jurisdiction and would not be able to deal adequately with all cases, including the ones still pending,” the EPPO wrote.

“The European Chief Prosecutor has concluded that current developments demonstrate a clear and persistent intention to obstruct the effective prosecution of fraud cases in Slovenia, including tax fraud, tax evasion and corruption,” they added.

The EPPO has also contacted the European Commission about this, based on the regulation on the conditionality of EU funds on respect for the rule of law.

The proposed changes were also opposed by Slovenia’s Supreme State Prosecutor’s Office and the majority of the opposition parties, as well as several groups of MPs within the coalition. The parliament is scheduled to discuss the proposal at Monday’s session.