Justice Ministry publishes new call for delegated prosecutors

Ljubljana – The Justice Ministry published in the Official Gazette on Friday a new call for applications for two European delegated prosecutors after the previous was annulled on procedural grounds. This time the government expects six candidates. Candidates have 15 days to apply. The Prosecution Council warned the new call for applications was unlawful.

The call was published based on an article of the state prosecution service act which say that the Prosecution Council must “form a list of three candidates for the European prosecutor appointment”, which the Justice Ministry presents to the government, before the latter forwards it to the relevant EU institution.

The ministry says this means there must be three candidates for each of the two posts, meaning six candidates in total.

However, Mirjam Kline from the Association of State Prosecutors told the STA that there was no basis for a list with six candidates, “so we are wondering how this procedure will continue”.

The two candidates who were picked by the Prosecution Council in the first call, Tanja Frank Eler and Matej Oštir, filed a lawsuit at the Administrative Court in June over the government’s decision not to get acquainted with the proposal of their appointment. They demanded that no new call is published until a decision is reached in their case.

But the court struck down their application last week, saying they had filed it prematurely, before actually receiving a formal government decision about the termination of the procedure.

Kline said that Frank Eler and Oštir had received the government’s decision today. They now have 30 days to file a new lawsuit.

The State Prosecutors Association expects them to file the lawsuit, because “apparently this is the only way to determine that the government’s decision to annul a completed appointment procedure was illegal, and that the procedure led by the Prosecution Council had been completely in line with the state prosecution service act and the EU Council regulation”, Kline said.

She stressed that Slovenia’s candidates could only be picked by the State Prosecution Council, not the ministry or the government.

European Chief Prosecutor Laura Codruta Kövesi had already said that the College of Prosecutors would not choose among names but appoint the candidates that members states send, Kline warned. “How the government will get out of that one I don’t know,” she said.

The Prosecution Council warned today that the new call for applications was unlawful. By deciding on the candidates again in the absence of a court explanation of the law, the council would follow the government’s arbitrary interpretation of regulations and thus nod to its illegal decision, it said.

This would undoubtedly raise doubt in the legitimacy of the appointment of European delegated prosecutors in the repeated process, which could jeopardise successful prosecution of cases under the jurisdiction of the European public prosecution service in Slovenia, said the council, which also informed Kövesi of this at today’s meeting.

Prime Minister Janez Janša said in the European Parliament on Tuesday when responding to criticism over Slovenia’s non-appointment of the prosecutors that the appointment procedure could be concluded by autumn but warned that the government was not the only factor in this.

The government decided at the end of May not to get acquainted with the proposal of appointing Frank Eler and Oštir, who had been put forward by the Prosecution Council. Instead, it annulled the call and tasked the Justice Ministry to immediately publish a new call for applications.

Justice Minister Lilijana Kozlovič handed her resignation over this, arguing the government had no justified grounds for such a move.

The European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) started operating on 1 June despite the fact that two of the 22 participating countries, Slovenia and Finland, had no delegated prosecutors yet. Finland has already reached an agreement on the appointment of its delegated prosecutors.