Judge Zvjezdan Radonjić has caused quite a stir in the media by pointing out irregularities in the Slovenian judiciary, and thus he also became a victim of targeted revenge. Because the judge did not “calm down” in time – meaning, he did not stop talking about the problems in the judiciary – he received a suspension. First-class judges can afford to do practically anything they want, while second-class judges have to be mindful of every word they say. Among other things, Radonjić also pointed out inconsistencies or double standards in the case of President of the Court Marjan Pogačnik. Well, in addition to the suspension, he has now also received an Assessment from the Personnel Council, which says that the judge does not meet the criteria of personality traits, and therefore, the assessment of the judicial service is that Radonjić is not suitable for the judicial service.
The Judicial Personnel Council found that Judge Zvjezdan Radonjić did not protect the independence of an impartial trial and did not protect the reputation of the judges – so they assessed that the judge does not meet the criteria of “personality traits.” The assessment of the judicial service is, therefore, that the district judge – councillor Zvjezdan Radonjić is not suitable for the judicial service. And it was the President of the District Court in Ljubljana, senior judge Marjan Pogačnik – that is, the very judge to whom Radonjić was a thorn in his side, due to the latter pointing out certain things in the judiciary – who requested an assessment of the judge. “Even this last little bit of integrity and honour will now definitely leave Tavčarjeva 9, with the last of us, who will be removed through disciplinary proceedings, in order to serve as an example to others. The judiciary will not be able to recover for at least the next ten years, which is obviously the ultima ratio of all these proceedings,” Radonjić prophetically announced years ago, when he described different ways in which Počagnik went after him.
Interestingly, the explanation of the assessment states, among other things, that judge Radonjić created the false impression that he had been subject to severe illicit pressure, discrediting, and attempts to discipline him– which were all supposedly done by the judiciary, the leadership of the State Prosecutor’s Office, the Judicial Council and the Supreme Court of the Republic of Slovenia. His statements were quoted by several media outlets on the same day he made them, the explanation also states, adding: “Due to the judge’s statements, an extraordinary session of the National Assembly was held, and certain Slovenian Members of the European Parliament even asked the European Commission, while citing the judge’s statements, what it intends to do in the event of a clear risk of a breach of the EU values in relation to the inadmissible pressures of the judiciary on the judges and trials.” It is therefore clear from what has been written that the biggest problems are the judge’s public warnings and discussion about the controversial operating and inadmissible approaches of our judicial system.
In addition, the explanation of the decision also mentions the public letter, which was published in the Demokracija (Democracy) magazine in September 2019. In this letter, Radonjić allegedly publicly discredited the President of the District Court in Ljubljana. Namely, he wrote the following in the letter: “I first found myself in the tight grip of the President of the court marjan pogačnik (the non-capitalised initials are not the result of grammatical ignorance) a few years ago. I do not know exactly why, but I assume it was because of considerable efficiency and professionalism (mine, not his). He initiated disciplinary proceedings, the reasons for them being so ridiculous that everyone around us was appalled.” He added, among other things, that after appealing, the Appeals Chamber of the three chief justices had turned their hogwash into an exemption. “All three “judges” of the first instance are still judges, which is shameful for themselves, as well as the system; I will not write their names, due to hygienic reasons, and they do not even deserve to be mentioned, they’re not worth the ink on the paper. However, they proved that there is no defence for a judge involved in disciplinary proceedings; in the first instance, he will only ever get convicted,” he warned. Pogačnik then proposed a review of all of Radonjić’s work, which was undertaken by “the last secretary of the League of Communists of Yugoslavia in court,” Milena Jazbec Lamut. In the continuation of the letter, the judge described Pogačnik’s further abuse and finished the letter with the conclusion: “Someone is trying to destroy the rule of law in Slovenia. I really do not know who it is, but I know for sure who are the people from the judiciary that are involved in it!”
Well, it is more than obvious that someone got very worried because of this sentence. It is clear to us from practice that certain inappropriate statements made by first-class judges do not bother anyone. We can all recall the case of Judge Urška Klakočar Zupančič, who wrote the following on her Facebook profile at the end of November last year: “I hope that the age of Janšaism will one day only be a sad memory, but until that day, take care of yourselves,” and continued: “Everyone has the right to think what they want to think, but I personally like such a rhetoric much more than that of Beović, Krek, Bregant, Kacin, and the great dictator Janša.” In connection with the Radonjić case, we also need to mention the comment made by Blaž Kovačič Mlinar, a lawyer, a specialist in criminal law, Doctor of criminal law, and an assistant professor of law, who pointed out on Twitter that he had witnessed verbal outbursts by other judges, which were much more severe than those we have seen from Radonjić.
At the beginning of the year, we wrote about how the Commission for Public Office and Elections of the National Assembly decided to propose to the National Assembly that, at the request of the Celje Prosecutor’s Office, it would allow for criminal proceedings against Judge Radonjić to be initiated. The prosecution wanted to go after him for defamation and insults. The National Assembly then did not grant the judicial immunity and allowed for criminal proceedings to be conducted against him on the basis of a well-founded suspicion of committing the criminal offences of defamation and slander. “I found out that the procedure for waiving the judge’s immunity is already taking place exclusively and only from the newspapers. To date, I have not received a single notice of this! None of the listed state bodies have invited me for an interview or a discussion, where they would also find out about the opposing view. Interventions of this kind remind me very much of the situation from Kafka’s novel The Process, that is, the state of mind and relations that are in fundamental contradiction with democracy,” Radonjić told our media outlet at the time. Criminal proceedings were therefore instituted against the judge who drew attention to the situation in the judiciary and more broadly and clearly described the extremely dangerous circumstances that accompanied the trial of an innocent person who was sentenced to many years in prison, which indicates serious abuses of constitutional categories in order to cover up illegal (para)state mechanisms. At the same time, the National Assembly – intentionally or unintentionally – found itself in the role of an oppressor of freedom of speech – probably the most important of all constitutional categories.