Olaj says police commissioner no longer led by police but vice versa

Ljubljana – Slovenian Police Commissioner Anton Olaj has rejected allegations that the police is politicised. The situation is considerably better than one can gather from media reports, he said in an interview with the the newspaper Večer run on Saturday.

Olaj has gotten the impression that police commissioners used to be led by the police. “I’ve changed that, so that the police commissioner now leads the police force.”

The police head has recently made some staffing changes, which he said were not political but designed “to improve results or to direct them in the desired direction”.

“I strongly reject all allegations about the politicisation of the police,” he said, adding all the changes “have been made in agreement with the replaced workers or even at their request”.

It is also not true that he is seeking to replace Vojko Urbas as the director of the Criminal Police Department. He labelled this as misinformation.

But Tomaž Pečjak has already left as Olaj’s deputy, while the other deputy, Stanislav Vrečar, could also leave the post.

Olaj said he and Vrečar “had a talk and agreed that Večar would take some more time to think it over”, so Olaj said he would not necessarily go.

Turning to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), he said the “dispute” with the dismissed director general, Darko Muženič, was still open.

Muženič was appointed in June 2019 under the previous government and dismissed in May 2020 by Olaj’s predecessor. A labour court ruled in late 2020 that he remained NBI head and that the appointment procedure for his successor must be halted.

Olaj said he would decide on the future of NBI leadership once the dispute had been over, but said he was “very happy” with acting NBI head Petra Grah Lazar’s work.

He meanwhile declined to comment on Interior Minister Aleš Hojs’s recent statement in which he called police officers lazy.

“I think the minister knows what he says …, for which he assumes all responsibility. That’s his approach, and I can’t judge it, and others probably also cannot.”

As for the 14 September mass rally which turned violent in front of the Parliament House, Olaj praised the police’s action, saying he was “moved” by it.

“Police officers responded to the call, protected the parliament building, and acted without hesitation. I was – to use a somewhat unusual word – moved.”

He said the police had had no information that the rally, organised by a group opposing the government action on coronavirus, could turn violent or to it would attract thousands of people.