Kangler denies allegations of interference in police work

Ljubljana – The parliamentary commission investigating suspicion of political interference in the work of police interviewed Interior Ministry State Secretary Franc Kangler on Friday. Kangler denied during a four-hour session allegations about his unwarranted interfering in either the work of police or staffing decisions.

He was heard after the inquiry adopted an interim report on 10 January, proposing that Interior Minister Aleš Hojs and both state secretaries should resign.

Opposition LMŠ MP Rudi Medved, the commission’s chair, said today that Kangler was seen as “the main human resources officer at the police and the Interior Ministry”.

Kangler rejected the label, saying the police was obviously politicised to the extent that the commission knew its work better than himself.

He said little had changed in terms of staff since the new government assumed office, except the police commissioner, who is by law appointed by the government.

Kangler strongly denied he had made the appointment of Anton Travner as the police commissioner conditional on Travner replacing National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) head Darko Muženič.

He said Travner, who served as the police commissioner in March-July 2020, had employed staff on the basis of experience and the career system, stressing: “The career system in the police works.”

Also discussed was a special task force for migration, which is believed to have been staffed with criminal investigators whom the government wants to keep at bay because they worked on cases that are not to its liking.

Kangler said the task force had been formed because there had been a great need for such a task force, especially given the migration developments on the southern border.

It has proved a success, as there are now fewer illegal crossings of the border, he said, while Medved said the task force had actually not been tasked with anything specific.

Kangler meanwhile said he had proposed to the interior minister that Vlado Maksimovič, who used to work for the Maribor Police Department, take over as the head of the task force.

He also said he did his job professionally when asked by Medved whether he believed he could be unbiased and professional as state secretary in relations with the police, where there are people who had investigated him over suspicion of wrongdoing as the mayor of Maribor (2006-2012).

Coming to Kangler’s defence, ruling SDS MP Dejan Kaloh said the state secretary had clarified many dilemmas while he also praised Kangler as diligent and professional.

In a statement to the press after the session, Medved said Kangler’s hearing showed the executive looked down on the commission’s work.

Medved accused the state secretary of being arrogant and delving into a number of unrelated topics, which “confirms what the commission has already discovered – that there is distinct political interference in the work of Slovenian police, its staffing, and in pre-trail procedures”.

Parliament will discuss the commission’s interim report later this month together with a dissenting opinion written by Kaloh, who labelled the findings from the report as misleading and harmful.