On Thursday, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled against Slovenia in the case of Igor Bavčar, by six votes to one. Namely, it ruled that his right to the presumption of innocence had been violated in the Istrabenz trial. Slovenia must pay him 10,000 euros in damages and 6,000 euros in costs. Our well-known lawyer Vasilka Sancin, who was the only one to vote against Bavčar, also participated in the decision as an ad hoc judge. “The way Vasilka Sancin voted at the ECHR is simply a consequence of the fact that she is a child of the never lustrated communist (legal) judicial system,” commented Jože Biščak.
At the ECHR, six judges voted in favour and one against – it was Vasilka Sancin from Slovenia. The judge thus again demonstrated the reflex of Slovenian jurists, which dates back to the previous system, that law is there to defend the state against the citizen, and not the other way around. It should be pointed out that the Igor Bavčar case was also heard by the Constitutional Court, but it, too – like the higher and Supreme Courts before it – found that the public threat to judges by the Minister of Justice did not affect the appearance of impartiality of the trial.
However, the ECHR found that the then-Minister Goran Klemenčič had violated the principle of presumption of innocence when he said that if the case were to become time-barred, heads would roll in the judiciary. He made the statement on the 27th of September 2016, in one of the dominant media outlets. The complaint also cited a statement by former Prime Minister Miro Cerar, who said publicly that the legal tightening of conditions for deferred imprisonment “prevents some people, who should probably be serving a prison sentence, from playing basketball.” In its ruling, the Court said that “high-ranking officials, in particular the Minister of Justice, should understand that they are obliged to respect the principle of the presumption of innocence.” The Court also described Cerar’s statement as a confirmation of Bavčar’s guilt at a time when the final verdict was not yet in.
She voted politically, not professionally
The panel of judges replaced the Slovenian ECHR judge Marko Bošnjak with an ad hoc judge, Vasilka Sancin, who was appointed by the government after Bošnjak was disqualified – he had represented Bavčar before he went to Strasbourg, when he was still working for Čeferin’s law firm. Sancin is a typical example of a Slovenian lawyer and a “prototype of a future constitutional judge.” “Vasilka Sancin’s vote at the European Court of Human Rights in the Bavčar case is a disgrace. She voted politically, not professionally. It is a disgrace for the Slovenian legal profession, but also a mirror of the Slovenian judiciary,” said Miro Petek. Meanwhile, Edvard Kadič believes that it showed “an interesting local understanding of the law, compared to the understanding of the law and its principles in Europe.” The other judges in the case of Bavčar v. Slovenia were: Alena Poláčková (the President), Lətif Hüseynov, Péter Paczolay, Ivana Jelić, Erik Wennerström, and Davor Derenčinović. Sancin was an ad hoc judge in the case, and Renata Degener was the Section Registrar.
Who is Vasilka Sancin?
Sancin is a Slovenian expert in international law and a very close friend of the former President of the Republic of Slovenia, Danilo Türk. Let us remind you of the arbitration wiretapping affair, when the appointment of arbitrator Jernej Sekolc was arranged by former President Türk, who made contact with Sekolc at the United Nations, and both of them are also linked to cooperation with the former State Security Administration of Yugoslavia. Türk also took care of his mistress, Vasilka Sancin, who made a fat fortune from the arbitration.
She also stood for election to the United Nations Human Rights Committee in 2022 but failed. She was even beaten by a candidate from Azerbaijan but blamed her failure to get elected on the then-government of Janez Janša, which allegedly blocked her nomination. However, given the fact that the late nomination was accepted anyway, the reason for her non-election lies elsewhere. By Slovenian standards – according to surveys, Slovenian judges are the second worst human rights abusers in Europe – she is the ideal candidate for the position of a Constitutional Court judge.