Supervision ordered over police work at Friday’s protest

Ljubljana – Police Commissioner Anton Olaj has ordered supervision of the work of the Ljubljana Police Administration in policing Friday’s alternative celebration of Statehood Day by anti-government protesters in Ljubljana’s Prešeren Square. He has said that there is suspicion as to whether all protesters were treated the same.

Olaj said in a press statement published on Twitter on Monday that there were doubts and questions had been raised in the public as to whether the police really “acted impartially and whether they enabled all participants to equally exercise their human rights and fundamental freedoms.”

The unannounced protest on Friday attracted some 9,000 people and saw addresses by representatives from various walks of life, including a war veteran, a trade unionist, a philosopher and a student. Some opposition politicians from centre-left parties also took part.

At the outset of the protest some members of the far-right Yellow Jackets unfurled a banner saying “You call patriotism fascism to defend your communism”. They were escorted away by police, according to several media reports.

Olaj said that, based on Saturday’s report from the Ljubljana Police Administration and the updated report and observation of the available video material, “a discrepancy and different interpretations of the same event in terms of the police action could be established.”

In order to establish whether the work was performed professionally and lawfully, supervision of the work of the Ljubljana Police Administration has been ordered, and results will be known in a week, he added.

Interior Minister Aleš Hojs expects the oversight to show whether the police reacted before they were directed by protester Jaša Jenull or only after, which “would be unacceptable for police”. The investigation should also show whether the police handled yellow vests within the scope of their powers.

The Police Trade Union of Slovenia (PSS) meanwhile said it had received several questions from journalists related to the reactions from the prime minister, the interior minister and the police commissioner.

It said that there was no information at the moment about officers of the special police unit acting unlawfully and unprofessionally while securing Friday’s rally.

As for the announced supervision, the trade union said it expected that it would be acquainted with the report if the findings encroached upon the rights of police officers.

“We believe that the police leadership or ministry will establish after supervision that police officers did not violate regulations and that they did everything necessary to ensure a high level of security of our citizens.”

Prime Minister Janez Janša called for investigation into the “incident in Prešeren Square” in a post on his Twitter profile on Saturday. “Where will it get us when the son of a state prosecutor orders police around?” he added.

The other police trade union, SPS, responded on its Facebook profile today, saying they “condemn ‘twitter’ investigations due to a group of troublemakers”. They believe the police acted swiftly professionally and efficiently to restore public peace and order.

The protest movement, which organised Friday’s alternative ceremony, said they assessed the group of troublemakers sought to provoke a conflict and prevent their programme, thus they called the police to remove them.

“It may be inferred from the government’s criticism of the police, who efficiently acted to calm down Friday’s incident, that it is obviously in the interests of government representatives to see an escalation of conflicts, riots or violence at protests,” the protest movement stated.

Police have estimated that some 9,000 people gathered for the unregistered rally in Prešeren Square. They established 14 violations of the public peace and order act. They are leading procedures against the organizer due to violation the public assembly act.