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The Case of Former Judge Radonjić: Countries That Adhere to the Rule of Law Do Not Suspend Judges Like Him

“Countries that adhere to the rule of law do not suspend judges like him. A measure like that is only used to silence unwanted judges,” lawyer Aleksander Pevec pointed out, also emphasising the importance of the independence of each individual judge. In his statement, he was, of course, referring to the now-former judge Zvjezdan Radonjić, who became a thorn in the side of the judiciary due to his criticism of it, which was followed by his suspension and the assessment of the Personnel Council, which decided that Radonjić’s personality is not a good fit for the judicial service – after 23 years of him being a judge. If anyone, it is Radonjić who could tell Brussels the most about the situation in the Slovenian judiciary, as the EU bureaucrats seem to be concerned about the rule of law in our country. However, Radonjić emphasises that the “rule of law” platitudes are merely being used as a diversion, intended for abuse, which helps maintain the inviolability of the positions of infiltrated domains and the interests of the domicile deep state.

Former judge Zvjezdan Radonjić believes that it is illusory to expect Vera Jourova and others like her to ensure adherence to the true rule of law in small countries: their operation is dedicated to protecting the interests of global underground elites. He pointed out that, accordingly, they also promote the neoliberal “left-wing” forces in Slovenia and continuously act against nationally conscious forces, slander the Prime Minister, highlight minor problems, and organise and support the “rioters.” Unlike the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, in which Slovenia was allowed to operate in the best possible way, economically speaking, so it could later be exploited, the EU does not allow Slovenia to operate economically – also with the intention of exploitation, Radonjić explained, adding that the latter is significantly more dangerous than the former. “If the citizens do not elect nationally conscious political forces but instead decide for Soros’s “leftist” agency in the next elections, the country will be paralysed again, urgent reforms of the systems will not be carried out, the EU and domestic trilateral will erode what little economic and political sovereignty we have left, and the country will eventually become Colombia in the middle of Europe – poor and without any prospects,” he warned.

Brussels is said to be concerned about the state of the rule of law – as the mainstream media often report. “As far as I know, the topic was forwarded to the EU bodies (I do not know exactly which ones) by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and an MEP. I only know that the responsible EU bodies have ignored the initiative and that no formal procedure has been initiated in this regard,” Radonjić commented, emphasising that he had previously publicly expressed his belief that this would happen. He explained that the entire EU summit, all of its bodies, are composed and controlled by the bodies of the so-called international deep state – the trilateral, a conglomerate of the highest informal centres of power, which established control over the EU institutions and instrumentalised them to meet their own needs. He then pointed out that the Slovenian public is mistaken about the good intentions, progressiveness, equality and other essential promoted values; the EU is an instrument of the leading members, being used for the economic exploitation of indebted and dependent small countries, which are offered certain financial benefits, but in the long run, the whole thing is tied to the heartless exploitation of all kinds. Nothing in human history has ever happened without being tied in some way to the accumulation of material goods, and the same applies to the EU. “The “rule of law” platitudes are merely being used as a diversion, intended for abuse, which helps maintain the inviolability of the positions of infiltrated domains and the interests of the domicile deep state. The protection of corrupt justice-type systems is an element of destroying the resilience of small countries, which is mainly happening through the EU’s executive bodies,” Radonjić concluded.

The suffering of former judge Radonjić, who became a thorn in the side of the judicial system
The story began – at least in the eyes of the public – in April of 2019, when, in the introduction to the explanation of the verdict acquitting Milko Novič of the murder of the director of Institute of Chemistry, Janko Jamnik, judge Zvjezdan Radonjić also spoke about severe pressure he experienced during the trial. According to Radonjić, the pressuring began through the president of the District Court, Marjan Pogačnik, who allegedly said that the judge should be disciplined so that he would then start judging properly. Pogačnik and the president of the Supreme Court, Damijan Florjančič, demanded additional explanations regarding the pressures, which Radonjić also provided, and on the same day, Pogačnik assessed on the national television TV Slovenia that the matter was not as dramatic as it seemed. In the official position of the District Court, they wrote that this was clearly just the subjective perception of the judge on the individual actions of the participants in the proceedings. “The request for the removal and recording made by the head of a specialised state prosecutor’s office cannot be considered pressure, mush less can such actions be perceived as a demand for a judge to be disciplined,” they said, adding that other judges did not perceive “comparable situations” this way. Radonjić then also explained that inadmissible pressures also came from the judges, prosecutors and lawyers – an unnamed judge allegedly approached him several times and asked him if he would acquit Novič, and the prosecutor of the Specialised Prosecutor’s Office, Blanka Žgajnar, demanded the judge’s disqualification because he allegedly violated the appearance of impartiality with his statements. The head of the prosecution, Harij Furlan, also wrote to Pogačnik, proposing that action be taken against the judge for his inappropriate behaviour towards prosecutor Žgajnar. The defence attorney of the wife of the deceased Jamnik, Miha Kunič, even filed a criminal complaint against the judge, citing the alleged biased trial as the subject of the complaint.

The Judicial Council concluded that the judge’s allegations were the result of his subjective perception
President of the District Court, Marjan Pogačnik, initially denied that any disciplinary or criminal proceedings against judge Radonjić were pending. He also assured that his job could not be endangered due to his decision in the trial of Milko Nović. However, judge Radonjić had a different opinion, saying that because he wanted to ensure that Novič had a fair trial, he would never be promoted, and in a month, he would probably even be suspended. Two months later, the case was then presented to the Judicial Council, which concluded that the judge’s allegations were unfounded and a consequence of his subjective perception. Then the ethics commission, which operates within the Judicial Council, ruled that Radonjić’s statements were inconsistent with the judicial code of ethics. According to the commission, judge Radonjić violated the principles of attitude and reputation of the Code of Judicial Ethics. Pogačnik then proposed to the disciplinary prosecutor at the Judicial Council that disciplinary proceedings be instituted against Radonjić – accusing him of several violations of the Judicial Service Act due to his conduct in announcing the verdict in the Milko Novič case. He accused the judge, among other things, of failing to fulfil or unjustifiably refusing to perform his judicial duties; conduct that is contrary to judicial independence or which violates the reputation of the judicial profession, and inappropriate, indecent or offensive behaviour or expression towards individuals, state bodies and legal entities, in connection with the performance of his judicial service or outside of it. Disciplinary sanctions for these violations are, according to legal provisions, a written reprimand, suspension of promotion, reduction of salary, transfer to another court, or termination of the judicial role.

At this point, the judge had had enough pressuring and harassment after 23 years on the job. He explained how the deep state operates within the Slovenian judiciary, and he also described how he had been prosecuted by the District Court for years with disciplinary proceedings and with its assessments of his work being unsuccessful, just because he tried to judge fairly. “Behind all of this is the president of the court, Marjan Pogačnik, who is carrying out a pogrom against me through the judges who follow him and obey him,” judge Radonjić said, telling Siol: “I do not like to use harsh words, that is not my style. But when the president of the court abuses the mechanisms entrusted to him by the state, thereby causing unnecessary harm to the people, it makes sense that the people do not like him. Many are afraid of him but do not dare to speak about it in public.” The journalist then asked him if we can expect a fair trial and professional judges if we ever find ourselves in court at Tavčarjeva Street 9, where the District Court of Ljubljana is located, to which Radonjić replied sincerely: “Do everything in your power to make sure that you are not involved in a trial at Tavčarjeva Street 9.”

Then, in early October, the District Court of Ljubljana published a statement by the judges of the criminal, specialised and investigative departments, with which they responded to the media statements of the district judge Zvjezdan Radonjić. The statement was allegedly signed by 30 judges of the aforementioned divisions, but in reality, not a single name was given. Florjančič emphasised that this was an autonomous statement prepared by the judges, for which he believed that those who made it public also made sure that the statement with signatures was documented properly. The initiative for the statement, in which they denied Radonjić’s allegations of pressure and intimidation, was allegedly created by a panel of judges of the criminal, investigative, and specialised departments.

“Judge Deja Kozjek initiated a chain of phone calls, which in the end resulted in Miodrag Đorđević being appointed to sign something. This is the typical modus operandi of the mafia,” Radonjić said, adding that calls for judges to keep quiet are also typical for the operating of a mafia.

Based on the disciplinary proceedings, the Supreme Court imposed a temporary suspension
In August of the following year – 2020, the Supreme Court ordered Radonjić to be temporarily removed from the judicial service or suspended. The temporary suspension was imposed by the vice-president of the Supreme Court, Miodrag Đorđević, on the basis of initiated disciplinary proceedings – that is, disciplinary proceedings that had been in motion for two years at that point, according to Radonjić, as a result of his ruling in the Novič case. He was also banned from appearing in court, along with other restrictive measures. “This confirmed all of the statements I have made publicly so far,” Radonjić told the Demokracija magazine. The Supreme Court told the Slovenian Press Agency that Radonjić is accused of committing several serious disciplinary violations, which, according to their description, show perseverance and repetitive actions or the manner of expression of the accused. “In view of the above, the vice president of the Supreme Court assessed that the judge should be charged with these disciplinary offences, which, given their nature and gravity, dictate the suspension from the court, to ensure the smooth functioning of the court and in order to protect the reputation of the judiciary and public confidence in this institution,” they wrote. Đorđević’s decision on suspension was also confirmed by the Judicial Council, against which Radonjić then filed a lawsuit. The judge believes that the suspension is a disproportionate measure, and the Judicial Council made the decision without holding a hearing first or trying to establish the facts in a different manner.

“A judge is (regardless of the way he decides – as an individual, in a senate or in a general session), part of the collective, his department, a specific court, and the judiciary as such. Collegiality, mutual trust, respect and cooperation are important for the quality and efficient implementation of the judiciary. Therefore, a judge should not be burdened with allegations of inappropriate, indecent or offensive behaviour or expression, especially in connection with the performance of the judicial service,” they warned. The Supreme Court also pointed out that a judge is expected to set an example with his behaviour, both to his fellow judges and others, and his conduct must be ethically and socially acceptable, in accordance with the generally accepted standards and values.

Due to the suspension, the trials in 60 individual cases had to start all over again – the suspension of a judge is a mockery of the rule of law
Prime Minister Janez Janša also responded to the news that the Supreme Court will assign Zvjezdan Radonjić’s 60 cases to other judges due to his suspension, which means that the trials will have to start all over again, writing: “This is a big scandal. A mockery of the rule of law, a mockery of justice. A great injustice has also been inflicted on all those who will have to repeat the hearings that have previously already been carried out. We will do everything in our power to ensure that the self-proclaimed clique in the judiciary does not bury Slovenia with its totalitarian tactics.” Of course, the Supreme Court responded to this, writing that Janša’s opinion crosses all the lines of usual norms of communication and criticism and also affects public confidence in the functioning of the judiciary. They also wrote that the interference of one of the branches of authority in another branch could undermine the principle of separation of powers. To this, Janša replied that it is difficult for anyone to interfere in something that does not exist. “Except in the actions of upright and brave individuals, who are constantly being slandered and harassed,” he added.

A criminal complaint was also filed against Radonjić on suspicion of a false accusation
Radonjić also accused some other judges of bribery. In February 2018, he filed a complaint regarding a case of alleged bribery in a higher court, and in addition, seven other cases dealt with by higher judges were, in his opinion, also suspicious. Radonjić denied the allegations of a false accusation and emphasised that he stood behind his claims. He also emphasised that he did not spread false rumours but provided the police with information that he was aware of.

It should also be noted that the National Assembly did not grant the judge in question immunity and allowed for criminal proceedings to be conducted against him on a well-founded suspicion of committing the criminal offences of defamation and slander. Namely, 79 MPs voted in favour of the decision, and one voted against it. The Commission for Public Office and Elections decided to propose to the National Assembly that, at the request of the Celje Prosecutor’s Office, it allow for the commencement of criminal proceedings against the judge. The prosecution wanted to prosecute him for defamation and slander – due to the aforementioned accusation of alleged bribery in a higher court, and as we already mentioned, one of the judges filed a lawsuit against Radonjić for false accusations because he unjustifiably accused other judges of bribery. “I found out that the procedure for the waiver of judicial immunity is taking place from the newspapers, and to this day, I have not received a single document confirming this! None of the aforementioned state bodies invited me for an interview or questioning in order to familiarise themselves with the opposing views. Interventions of this kind are very reminiscent of the situation from Kafka’s novel The Process, that is, the state of mind and the relations that are in fundamental contradiction with democracy,” Radonjić commented on the events. The indictment filed by the prosecution against Radonjić for defamation and slander is final, the media also reported recently.

Assessment: the judge did not protect the reputation of the judiciary, and therefore, he is not a good fit for the judicial service
Well, as an epilogue to the whole story, in June this year, Radonjić also received an assessment from the Personnel Council that he does not meet the criteria of compatible personality traits. The assessment of the judicial service was that Radonjić is not fit for the judicial service. The Personnel Council found that the judge did not protect the independence of an impartial trial and did not protect the reputation of the judiciary – so they accepted the assessment that the judge does not meet the criterion of “personality traits.” The assessment of the judicial service is, therefore, that the district judge – councillor Zvjezdan Radonjić is not a good fit for the judicial service. It was Pogačnik who demanded that an assessment of Radonjić be made – the same man who, at the beginning of this whole ordeal, denied that any disciplinary or criminal proceedings were to be instituted against judge Radonjić, and also ensured that his job could not be endangered because of this situation.

Sara Bertoncelj 

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