Prosecution deems govt decision on delegated prosecutors unconstitutional

Ljubljana – The Supreme State Prosecution expressed concern on Friday over the government’s decision not to honour the ruling by the Administrative Court on the appointment procedure of Slovenia’s delegated prosecutors. It said the government was clearly in violation of two articles of the Constitution.

After the court overturned the government’s decision of May to annul the pick of Tanja Frank Eler and Matej Oštir as Slovenia’s prosecutors delegated to the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO), upholding the pair’s appeal, the government asked the Justice Ministry last night to publish yet another call for applications.

The Supreme State Prosecution said today that by refusing to implement the court ruling the government directly and clearly violated the provisions of articles 2 and 23 of the Constitution, which respectively deal with the rule of law and the right to judicial protection.

The government established yesterday that the court’s decision could not be implemented as the procedure the government was supposed to re-examine had been concluded with the publication of a new call for applications on 9 July.

This means the government is hampering the re-examination of the appointment procedure, the Supreme State Prosecution said today.

Justice Minister Marjan Dikaučič said after a meeting of EU justice ministers in Luxembourg yesterday that a prompt appointment of the delegated prosecutors was in the interest of the Justice Ministry.

Coalition New Slovenia (NSi) president and Defence Minister Matej Tonin said that “in accordance with our law we must propose at least three candidates”.

As only two have been proposed, the procedure was inadequate, which is why we repeated it,” he said, proposing that several candidates be proposed for the EPPO, the existing two and possible new candidates that may apply for the new call.

“The European Public Prosecutor’s Office could then pick two most appropriate candidates,” Tonin said, noting that several other member states had used this option.

The minister called for the “matter to be resolved without new legal complications” and for the option for the state to be able to still challenge the court decision.

European Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders would not comment on the matter yesterday, saying the Commission was yet to study both the Administrative Court’s decision and the government’s decision.

He reiterated that it was important for all participating members to appoint their delegated prosecutors, as the EPPO started operating on 1 June.

European Chief Prosecutor Laura Kövesi expressed serious concern over the developments during yesterday’s ministerial, calling for the EU’s financial interests in Slovenia to be protected by all means available, the EPPO said today.

Kövesi informed the ministers about the consequences of the latest developments, highlighting that the Slovenian obstruction was creating “a prosecution gap” in the work of the EPPO and wondering whether it was still possible to talk about appropriate protection of the EU’s budget.

The government annulled the selection in late May with the argument that there was an insufficient number of candidates in the selection procedure, a move that prompted the resignation of Lilijana Kozlovič as justice minister.