Ljubljana – The Judicial Council has urged Supreme Court judge Branko Masleša to provide an explanation about his law graduation diploma and the bar exam. This is after Masleša has been making headlines in some pro-government media about the level of education, and passing the bar exam a year earlier after graduation than possible under the law.
It is not within the Judicial Council’s powers to check whether the formal criteria for a judicial post were met in cases when appointment procedures were already fully completed, the Council said in a written statement on Monday.
It is thus not within its power to evaluate the authenticity of the documents Masleša provided to prove the attained level of education or the passing of the bar exam together with his application for a judicial post, the Council added.
But in order to protect the reputation of the judiciary and judges, it expects him to provide to the Council and the public “a comprehensive explanation about the unclarity and doubts about the validity of his graduation diploma and the bar exam”.
At the end of last year, several pro-ruling Democrats (SDS) media questioned whether Masleša graduated in law and wondered how he could have passed the bar exam just a year after graduation, whereas a candidate could take it only two years after graduation.
Masleša, 69, graduated in law in 1975 from the Faculty of Law in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina, when Slovenia was still part of Yugoslavia. He passed the bar exam in 1976, while he started working in Koper, Slovenia, where he was born, in the 1980s.
Nova24TV said that if his original appointment as judge was unlawful, so have all the subsequent appointments to judicial posts.
Masleša and the Supreme Court have been reluctant to respond to the allegations, and have been also criticised for that.
In a 6 December tweet, the court downplayed the question of Masleša’s graduation papers and announced that Masleša would file a lawsuit over the untruths.
The tweet was also deemed unsuitable by the Judicial Council, which argued that the judicial administration is obligated to provide relevant information to the public.
Masleša came under fire from the SDS before; when he was vying for the post of Supreme Court president in 2010, he was accused of human rights violations.
His candidacy was also marred by allegations of having been a high-ranking Communist Party official and an opponent of Slovenia’s independence.
He strongly denied all the allegation at the time, and was elected the Supreme Court president, serving between November 2010 and November 2016.
The Judicial Council discussed the Masleša graduation affair at a session held last Thursday via video call, and confirmed the minutes and the adopted resolutions in a correspondence session which ended this morning.