Report: Court annuls dismissal of ex NBI head Muženič

Ljubljana – The Nova Gorica Administrative Court has annulled the dismissal of former director of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Darko Muženič, web portal 24ur.com reported on Monday. The case was remanded to police for re-examination. The court’s decision is final, so there is no possibility of an appeal.

Muženič decided to challenge his 6 May dismissal at the Administrative Court, claiming the no-fault dismissal procedure used to dismiss him in line with the act on public servants only applied to political office holders.

Following a change in power, the then acting Police Commissioner Anton Travner replaced Muženič with Igor Lamberger, invoking provisions from the act governing the operations of the police and the act on civil servants.

The police said these provisions allowed the police commissioner to replace the NBI boss within a year since the police commissioner was appointed or within a year since the NBI director was appointed without providing any of the reasons the law stipulated for dismissal.

Muženič’s lawyer Uroš Leben, however, claimed the NBI was only one of the police force’s internal organisational units, meaning its director did not fall under the provisions of the public servants act, which refer to the termination of terms of public office holders, and the court upheld this view.

Leben told Večer today that the court’s decision meant that Muženič’s employment contract was still valid. He thinks the Interior Ministry or the police should call Muženič back to work in a few days.

“In case the ministry or police do not do that, we will have to wait for a decision of the Labour and Social Court, where Darko Muženič has filed a suit against the ministry and police over wrongful dismissal,” the lawyer said.

Interior Minister Aleš Hojs commented on the court’s decision at today’s parliamentary session responding to a question from MP Nik Prebil from the opposition Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ). “Up to this moment, I have not been informed that there was something wrong with this procedure,” he said.

“If the court issued a decision or ruling, which as you say returned Muženič to his old job, then we must first see what the court said in this ruling,” he said, adding the court’s decision must be studied before any “relevant responses” could be given.

“It’s difficult for me to comment on what this or that web portal wrote, of course one of those that have a great interest that nothing happens at the NBI or that everything stays the way it was. Meaning that after 10 years … the most demanding criminal acts are not being investigated,” he said.

The minister assessed that the NBI had not been very successful under different heads so far, which is why the ministry plans its reorganisation.

“Given that there has been quite a few proposals that the function and status of this NBI should be defined more clearly within the organisation and work of the police act, we will approach this in the sense of amendments to this law, which we plan sometime by the end of the year,” he said.

The police force told the STA today it had not received the ruling yet so it could not comment. But it noted that it honoured courts’ decisions.

The NBI is currently headed by acting director Petra Grah Lazar as the third new leader of the specialised police unit for white-collar crime since May. She was appointed last week after her predecessor Uroš Lepoša stepped down less than three months on the job citing personal reasons.

Lepoša was appointed on 29 July to replace Lamberger after a similarly brief stint.