Former police commander Glavič denies political interference

Ljubljana – Former head of the Ljubljana Police Administration Boštjan Glavič denied he had been under political pressure on the job as he was interviewed on Friday by the parliamentary commission investigating suspicion of political interference in police. He also discussed developments after the 25 June protest and removal of the Yellow Jackets.

Glavič, who headed the Ljubljana Police Administration from March to September, told the MPs he had received warning before contract termination because the removal of the far-right group was ordered at the protest in Prešeren Square in Ljubljana.

He said that the order for intervention at the protest had been given by head of security Nermin Isić, who had also later received warning before contract termination.

Glavič said that the police officers who intervened in the protest had acted professionally and lawfully, while preventing major violations of public order and peace.

He noted that the call by Jaša Jenull, one of the main faces of the Friday protests on bicycles, for the police to remove the Yellow Jackets, had had no influence on the work of the police at the particular protest.

During his tenure at the Ljubljana Police Administration, he was only once visited by Interior Minister Aleš Hojs, who was accompanied by Police Commissioner Anton Olaj, which was before the 25 June protest.

Glavič denied the allegations that the minister proposed certain measures, saying he was only interested in whether the police was prepared for the protest.

He confirmed that the list of 30 police officers who intervened against the Yellow Jackets had to be prepared for the General Police Administration.

“That was slightly unusual,” Glavič said, while noting that the list had been sent to the police command and not to politicians, as he was asked whether he would label such a request as political pressure.

He said that he had accepted the warning before contract termination, which according to him was certainly related to the developments on 25 June, as final. “I didn’t want to make an issue out of it.”

Glavič added that he had understood the move as a vote of no confidence, noting that trust between him and Olaj had been shattered and that it would be difficult for him to continue to head the Ljubljana Police Administration.

He thus asked Olaj to be transferred, and transferred he was to the Police Academy in Tacen, where he is an assistant director.

Janez Rupnik, the current head of the Ljubljana Police Administration, meanwhile told the commission that the police work at the 5 October protest, at which a water cannon and tear gas were used, was professional and lawful.

Rupnik, who took over on 1 October, said that the operational centre had been visited that day by Interior Ministry State Secretary Franc Kangler and Olaj, to see “what the situation is”, denying that Kangler had been giving any instructions.

After the session, commission chair Rudi Medved said that those who had decided on 5 October how to act had known very well what had happened to those who were, in the opinion of certain politicians, too lenient on protesters on 25 July.

The MP of the opposition Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ) added that “in order to meet the expectations of politicians, they acted more harshly than necessary, and were applauded and praised by politics.”

According to him, politics has already achieved its goals in the police in terms of staffing in all key posts, so he is afraid that there will be even more repression in future interventions by the police so that they appeal to politicians.

Medved pointed to a recent report from an expert commission on the 5 October protest, saying that “it could not get past some facts which we have been pointing to – excessive use of coercive means, tear gas and water cannon. This was black on white.”

The parliamentary commission confronted Rupnik with these findings from the report. “It is shocking to establish that he does not find this disputable at all,” Medved said.

“And when he is asked whether tear gas canisters being shot in empty squares could be expected in the future, he shrugs it off as if the situation on the ground is such that it is hard to tell when and where this would happen,” he added.