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[Exclusive Testimony] They Beat Him Until He Lost Consciousness, Then Fined Him!

“I froze in fear,” the victim of police violence described the moments when police officers – as described by the witnesses of the incident – came at him like animals. “One of the enforcers picked up a baton, another one stood guard, they knocked my legs out from under me, and six heavy policemen picked me up and carried me away. After a few steps, they let go of me, and I fell to the ground,” said the victim, who also lost consciousness and sometime later found himself in a police vehicle with handcuffs on his hands. He bled profusely as a result of the police officer’s blow to his face and was later kept under observation after a visit to the emergency room. In addition to the physical suffering, he was also fined by the police. The victim and his lawyer filed a criminal charge against the Assistant Chief of the Bežigrad Police Station.

In the first half of December, we reported on the violent actions of the police – they forcibly arrested and took away a landowner in the C0 area, where the Mayor of Ljubljana, Zoran Janković, intends to illegally build a sewer across a drinking water catchment area. The police brutality was also recorded, and the victim was kept under observation at the University Medical Centre that day due to his injuries and was then on sick leave for several days. One witness told Radio-Television Slovenia that they were standing on a plot of land that was not at all questionable and was not even intended for construction – away from the main action – but one of the owners of the plots in the area was nevertheless stopped by the police, and when he shouted “emergency,” it started. “They came at him like animals,” said the witness.

According to the victim, he had come to his neighbour in Ježica that day to help him fix a problem with his tractor. Activities related to geodetic work were taking place in the vicinity, but not on the neighbour’s property. The victim was suddenly spotted by the Assistant Chief of the Bežigrad Police Station – he pointed his hand at the unsuspecting man and ordered his subordinates to bring him in. “I was surprised and stood there, not expecting to be kidnapped,” said Aleš Mrzel, who filed a criminal charge against the Assistant Chief of the Bežigrad Police Station, as did the landowners’ lawyer, Klemen Golob. “I froze in fear because the enforcers were able to activate weapons and other means of coercion. One of the enforcers picked up a baton, another one stood guard, they knocked my legs out from under me, and six heavy policemen picked me up and carried me away. After a few steps, they let go of me, and I fell to the ground, and then I was restrained with a vice-like grip, then I lost consciousness for a certain period of time, and after a while, I found myself in a police vehicle with handcuffs on my wrists. In between, I bled profusely from a blow to the face from a policeman. I was about to faint at the Bežigrad police station and, with blood all over my face, I was unable to read or sign some papers that the accused pushed in front of my face,” Mrzel wrote in his complaint.

In response to our December article and journalists’ questions regarding police assistance at Prod, the Public Relations representative of the Municipality of Ljubljana, on behalf of the Director of the Police Administration Robert Bajuk, informed us that the local self-governing community, i.e. the Municipality of Ljubljana, had requested the police to assist them in carrying out their duties in the Ježica area. He explained that “The police, when providing assistance to competent beneficiaries, do not check or determine the legality and correctness of previous procedures, nor do they check whether there are factual grounds for carrying out a certain task. All of the above is the responsibility of the beneficiaries (in this case, the Municipality of Ljubljana), which is also responsible for the professionalism and legality of its procedures, to which the representatives of the Municipality were particularly reminded. The role of the police is only to ensure the safety of the beneficiaries.” According to the police, when assessing the request of the Municipality of Ljubljana for assistance in the continuation of the construction of the C0 sewage canal, the police found that the conditions set out in Article 12 of the Police Tasks And Powers Act were met, and on the 14th of December, the police provided assistance to the Municipality of Ljubljana.

The victim also receives a payment order

In the meantime, the police also sent the injured man, Mrzel, a payment order for committing offences under Article 7(2) and Article 22(1) of the Protection of Public Order Act. They also enclosed “a brief description of the facts of the offence, including evidence,” as well as a detention order, a notice of the detainee’s rights and a report on the ambulance transport. And how much does it cost these days to be violently knocked to the ground by the police on your own property, dragged on the ground while bleeding, and taken to the police station? The second paragraph of Article 7, according to the fine, is worth 417.29 euros, and the first paragraph of Article 22 is worth 333.83 euros. That is a total of 751.12 euros – as if the physical consequences of arrest and detention were not enough. It is somewhat ironic that among the rights of a person deprived of his liberty is also the right to permanent access to drinking water. Landowners who oppose the construction of the C0 canal believe that they are the last bastion of protection for drinking water.

Sara Bertoncelj

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