Police commissioner: Indications some investigations politically motivated

Ljubljana – Police Commissioner Anton Olaj, who took over in late January, told the newspaper Delo in an interview run on Saturday there were indications some police investigations had been politically motivated.

Olaj would not elaborate on details of politically motivated investigations in the police but he noted that the success of criminal procedure depended most on prosecution.

From the time a crime is detected, prosecution takes charge of the procedure, he noted, adding that prosecutors’ directions to police officers must be in writing to reduce the risk of abuse.

The police commissioner believes there is too little emphasis on the constitutional principle under which you are innocent until you are proved guilty in a final court decision.

“It would appear from the media that the circumstance of a person being suspected of or charged with a crime is sufficient for the person to get a negative label,” he said, adding that such labels were being pinned on people in positions who needed good reputation to do their job.

Olaj agrees with the opposition’s demand to set up a parliamentary inquiry into pressure allegedly exerted by Interior Minister Aleš Hojs on the police because he believes it is good to play with open cards. “Police will cooperate there, there’s no question about it.”

He does not think different world views of the force’s employees have any major effect on the efficiency of their work. “The police force is maintaining a high level of professionalism and operative capacity, no doubt,” he said.

Asked about staffing at the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), the commissioner said the court will have a final say in the dispute after the previous director, who was dismissed in May 2020, challenged the dismissal and the appointment of his successor.

Olaj described the situation at the NBI as stable and said he was happy with the work of acting director Petra Grah Lazar. He does expect her to set out the results of the work done to the public more often.

Public trust in police work is key for the success of that work, he said, adding that the trust has probably fluctuated during the epidemic. He would like for the public to realise the police are committed to maintaining public security.

“As far as police control and measures aimed at containing the spread of the virus I believe the police have been even too lenient, many a life would be spared had they been more determined,” he said.

Setting out his short-term plans, the commissioner said the concept of traffic safety work would be changed with fining becoming less undesired in favour of warnings. “My idea is having half warnings and half fines issued.”

One of his goals is to increase the house burglary resolution rate by 10%. He would also like to tackle backlogs in the handling of corporate crime. There will be more focus on reoffenders as well.

His long-term plans entail upgrading the education of trainee police officers at the higher school in Tacen to replace retired officers. “The system of officer training in Tacen will near the concept that existed before at the time of cadets.”