Patria Case Trial Postponed for Next Week


As the hearing started on Monday morning without Austrian businessman of Slovenian origin Walter Wolf, district judge Barbara Klanjnsek decided to postpone the trial for a week.

Wolf is suspected of helping Ivan Crnkovic, the boss of Rotis, the Slovenian company selected to supply the APCs from Patria, to offer bribes in the EUR 278m purchase of 135 armoured personnel carriers from Patria.

Wolf's lawyer Andrej Kac said that his client was absent because of health reasons, but he expects that Wolf will arrive in Slovenia already this week and that he will attend the next hearing on 12 September.

At the request of the defence, the judge ordered the prosecution to get a Slovenian translation of more than 300 pages of documents collected in Finland that have been recently added to the case file.

Meanwhile, Jansa's lawyer Franci Matoz argued against the postponement of the trial and proposed temporary elimination of the proceedings against Wolf. Klanjnsek rejected the proposal.

In line with the last version of the indictment circulated, the trial will see Jansa – the PM at the time of the purchase and presently a leading contender for the post of prime minister – accused of complicity in receiving a bribe.

Joze Zagozen, Jansa's close aide in the past in the Democrats (SDS), and army officer Tone Krkovic, also an associate of Jansa in the past, are accused of accepting a bribe. Moreover, Ivan Crnkovic is charged with offering bribes, while Wolf is suspected of helping him.

Jansa told the press as he was exiting the courtroom that there was obviously an interest that the trial lasted as long as possible. Hearings will be held once a week, which means that the press will be able to cover a "soap opera", he added.

Jansa labelled the trial "a prosecution and political farce", wondering how to prove that he was not "at unspecified place at unspecified time", which according to him is one of the alleged arguments against him in the indictment.

He added that there was no evidence to be challenged at all. "In a nutshell, there is nothing at all there, a plain farce and absurdity."

According to Jansa, those who have indicted him do not expect to win the case in court, "but they count on a lengthy trial so that the images of me and other defendants will have a certain effect".

He added that the trial was taking away his time and that his political opponents would have an advantage "in the time when the coalition is breaking apart".

One of the profs that the trial will be prolonged on purpose is the involvement of Wolf, who is in Canada and is ill, and the exclusion of painter Jure Cekuta (an alleged middleman), "who is obviously the only man from Slovenia who actually got the money".

Crnkovic said before the trial he expected an acquittal as "we haven't done anything wrong". He added after the hearing that he was not able to work because of the trial, as his company was losing deals and that its existence is threatened as the media "presented me as a criminal".

Krkovic added that he had still not been acquainted with the charges against him, and Zagozen said he had nothing to say after the first day, announcing that he would argue he was innocent.