STA, 9 November - The 25-year-old man who set a popular club at the Metelkova alternative culture centre in Ljubljana on fire in June has been ordered by court to undergo psychiatric treatment. He will remain in custody until the decision becomes final.
Jalla Jalla went up in flames in the early hours on 6 June after the perpetrator had set the club's porch on fire, which spread quickly to completely destroy the club, causing some EUR 50,000 in damage.
The fire also spread to the roofing of the adjoined building, but firefighters contained it before it could do serious damage to the woodworking workshop in the building.
Psychiatrist Branko Brinšek, an expert witness in the case, has told the Ljubljana District Court that the perpetrator had been in a state of diminished capacity during the act due to a personality disorder and drug addiction.
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The court thus could not order a prison sentence, sending the man instead for psychiatric treatment in a secure institution on a proposal from the prosecution.
The newspaper Delo reported that the 25-year-old told the court on Thursday that "I want to change myself and my life" and that he had wanted to cause only minor damage as he had been angry at the people running the club.
"When the fire spread, I panicked. I did not have a phone on me and I went towards the nearest restaurant to call the police," he was quoted by the paper.
Andrejo Boršič, who represented the affected party, said that the perpetrator had threatened those operating the club even before the fire, including with a cold weapon.
According to the media, the perpetrator returned to Metelkova two days after the arson after being released from a psychiatric hospital. He reportedly bragged about setting the club on fire and continued with the threats.
Jalla Jalla has been undergoing renovation works and is expected to be opened soon.