“I hope that the era of Janšaism will one day be nothing more than a bitter memory, but until then, take care of yourself… Everyone can think what they want to think, but I much prefer this kind of rhetoric over Beović, Krek, Bregant, Kacin, and the great dictator Janša.” These are two statements that the Slovenian judiciary does not find to be problematic, even though they come from the ranks of judges. However, when a judge dares to criticise the judiciary, talk about the inadmissible pressures of the deep state, which, of course, ultimately affect the little man the most, he finds himself being heavily criticised. This is the Slovenian reality. Of course, nobody in Europe or anywhere else is pointing this out as problematic, as the imaginary stories about pressuring of the media that is supposedly happening in our country is at the forefront.
This happened in the case of the Patria affair already, when the opposition leader Janez Janša was imprisoned just before the elections and we all saw just how “strong” the European Union’s concern is for the respect of the rule of law in our country, so it is not surprising that there are no observers who would be worried about the lawyer Zvjezdan Radonjić, who dared to resist the pressures and talk about them out loud. Because of this, he became the target of those who are subordinate to the interests of the deep state.
The story of judge Urška Klakočar Zupančič of the Ljubljana District Court, who was dismissed from her position of managing a department of the court due to her posts in which she criticised the government, after which she was acquitted of all charges before the disciplinary commission of the Judicial Council, is still very fresh. Prior to her being acquitted, the Ethics and Integrity Commission of the Judicial Council found that no violation of the principles of the Code of Judicial Ethics could be established in the judge’s conduct. At the end of November last year, the judge wrote the following on her Facebook profile: “I hope that the era of Janšaism will one day be nothing more than a bitter memory, but until then, take care of yourself.” She also wrote: “Everyone can think what they want to think, but I much prefer this kind of rhetoric over Beović, Krek, Bregant, Kacin, and the great dictator Janša.” The fact that she called the Prime Minister “the great dictator” upset many, but apparently, this does not seem to be important to the Judicial Council. Thus, they followed the position of the judge’s representative, who emphasised some time ago that judges are also people who have the right to their own political belief, as well as the right to express their views, especially when it comes to drawing attention to the irregularities in the society and the functioning of the state.
But obviously, the irregularities in the operating of the society cannot be pointed out by everyone. When lawyer Radonjić dared to do the same, there were no signs of understanding from the judges. Prior to the Novič affair, judge Radonjić was relatively unknown in public. But when he started talking about the case in question, everything changed. He said that “not only is there no evidence which would prove that Milko Novič is guilty, but it is completely clear and proven that Milko Novič is not the murderer of Janko Jamnik.” What also needs to be mentioned is that the judge warned about the “severe pressures I was put under, they wanted to discipline and discredit me.” He revealed that immediately after the first hearings the pressuring of the President of the District Court in Ljubljana, Marjan Pogačnik began, demanding that Radonjić should be disciplined and stating that he should start judging properly. As usual, this was followed by a media attack. They began to spread fabrications, proving that apparently, a judge should not judge fairly.
Radonjić pointed out that what he said was very mild, compared to what judge Urška Klakočar Zupančič said
As Radonjić said at the time, he is not sure who is behind all of this, but he added that he is convinced that the decisions also came from the very top of the judiciary. He said that because he wanted to make sure that a trial would be fair, he would now never be promoted, and they would probably even suspend him at some point. Radonjić, who is being accused of inappropriate public expression of criticism at the expense of the judiciary, pointed out that what he said was very mild, compared to what judge Urška Klakočar Zupančič said.
In August last year, the Vice-President of the Supreme Court, Mirodrag Đorđević, imposed a temporary suspension on judge Radonjić of the district court. He did so because of the disciplinary proceedings against Radonjić, which were initiated due to his public criticism of the judiciary. Basically, he was being punished because he acquitted Novič and condemned the operating of the Slovenian judiciary. Additional problems began when he drew the public’s attention to the irregularities at the Ljubljana District Court, led by Marjan Pogačnik.
At the time, judge Zvjezdan told Demokracija the following in response to the decision on his suspension: “On the 12th of August, I received the decision on my suspension, which was sent from the Supreme Court of Slovenia, signed by Miodrag Đorđević, stating that the suspension starts on the 13th of August. I have also been banned from going to court, along with other restrictive measures. This confirms all of the previous statements that I have made in public. To all this, to the consequences that I have explained in the previous issue of Demokracija, we can now add this suspension as well. Personally, I even expected it to come a little sooner, so I cannot say I am surprised, but I have to correct a statement I made, my conclusion was that this was all about protecting some 50, 60-year-old interests, which should be continued, according to the communist method of work. Now I would like to correct the statement I made: this is more reminiscent of the Stone Age, that is, of the times which happened much earlier, when this idea took hold. These people are basically living in the Stone Age. They are completely convinced of their own omnipotence and believe no one can touch them.”
Radonjić’s suspension was also confirmed by the Judicial Council, against which he then filed a lawsuit. According to Siol, the first hearing in this matter before the Supreme Court Senate took place last Friday, with Radonjić’s lawyer Aleksander Pevec demanding the exclusion of Branko Masleša. Radonjić’s lawyer believes that Masleša should be excluded from the proceedings, as he is represented by lawyer Emil Zakonjšek, who is a member of the Judicial Council, against which Radonjić filed a lawsuit, and is also the President of the disciplinary bodies that conducted proceedings against Radonjić.
Due to the request for exclusion, for which Masleša said makes no sense, the hearing was adjourned and will continue on the 14th of May. However, before the hearing was adjourned, Radonjić also complained that the hearings were not being recorded and also requested access to the file on disciplinary proceedings of the Judicial Council against the judge of the District Court in Ljubljana, Urška Klakočar Zupančič. Radonjić emphasised that his words were markedly mild, compared to what judge Klakočar Zupančič said.
Kovačič Mlinar: I have heard statements that were much worse, made by some judges!
In regard to the Radonjić case, we absolutely have to also mention the comment of Blaž Kovačič Mlinar, lawyer, a specialist in criminal law, doctor of criminal law and assistant professor in the field of law, who posted the following on Twitter: he said that he has heard statements that were much worse than what we have heard from Radonjić. He also drew attention to an unnamed judge in Brežice, who is openly hostile to women in his statements. “A judge at the Brežice District Court is openly hostile to women (and a very devout Muslim), everyone knows about this problem, but still, nothing is happening…” he added critically.
In the past, we used to hear talk about the irregularities in the judiciary from people who were not part of it. Let us mention, for example, Masleša, who was the President of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Slovenia years ago, and according to some stories, he talked about how Janez Janša needs to be “fucked over” in the Patria case. And what is more, he appointed himself to the Senate, which decided on this matter at the Supreme Court. When Radonjić spoke about what was going on as an insider, we were able to see with our own two eyes what the consequences can be for someone who dares to be critical of the judiciary. Will they finally realise that in the case of Radonjić, his words were not all that harsh?