21 Apr 2021, 17:01 PM

STA, 21 April 2021 - A 21-year-old British citizen was arrested on Saturday for illegally transporting a five-member family from Iraq after a wild chase during which he crashed into police vehicles several times. The man is in custody.

The 21-year-old driving a car with Spanish licence plates was pulled over by border police in Srednja Bistrica on Friday evening, but when asked to show documents he put the car in reverse and deliberately hit the front part of the police car before leaving in the direction of the motorway, the Murska Sobota police department said on Wednesday.

The police immediately followed him, but he hit the breaks several times to hit the police car behind him. He also collided with another police vehicle during the wild chase.

Police then used stingers with the 21-year-old bypassing the first one and driving right through the second one, being forced to pull over with flat tyres just before reaching the motorway. But the man continued to run on foot and police lost track of him.

After inspecting his vehicle, police found a five-member family from Iraq in the car. The foreigners, who entered the country illegally from Croatia, applied for international protection. The women sustained light injuries during the wild chase.

The Slovenian police informed their counterparts in other countries of the fugitive and he was apprehended by the Austrian police on Saturday morning.

The man faces charges for illegal crossing of the border, prevention of official proceedings and taking revenge on a public official. He has been remanded in custody.

The 21-year-old was already processed by the Radgona police at the beginning of the month after he refused to pull over but continued speeding on the motorway, where he caused a traffic accident. He tried to run away on foot, but police eventually caught him.

The man was also involved in a police chase in the Celje area last year, after he refused to pull over. The chase also involved deliberate collisions with police cars and running away on foot.

21 Apr 2021, 16:16 PM

STA, 21 April 2019 - The Environment and Spatial Planning Ministry rejected at the end of March the BŠP company's request for a building permit to overhaul a rundown Ljubljana stadium designed by acclaimed architect Jože Plečnik. BŠP boss Joc Pečečnik says he will not give up on the project he launched in 2007 and will press charges.

The Bežigrad Stadium is protected as cultural heritage of national importance. Its construction started in the early 1920s, but was completed only in the late 1930s.

To save it from ruin, Ljubljana joined forces in November 2007 with businessman Pečečnik and the Slovenian Olympic Committee (OKS) to turn it into a sport park.

Following years of slow progress and setbacks, the Culture Ministry said in February the plans do not entail renovation and conservation of all elements of the stadium.

It also found problematic constructing a new multi-storey building housing a hotel, a sports clinic and department stores in the proximity of the monument.

As a result, the ministry and the Institute for the Protection of Cultural Heritage gave the plans a negative opinion, a basis for a decision on the building permit.

"We won't renounce the project in which we've put 14 years of effort, desires and money for the stadium to get finally renovated," Pečečnik told the press on Wednesday.

"To preserve its cultural heritage, we wanted to combine the old and the new in a symbiotic way as the only option to renovate Plečnik's stadium.

"The state gave up on this and many other cultural monuments a long time ago, leaving them to decay," he said at the news conference, held at the seat of BŠP.

Next week he intends to file criminal complaints and damages suits, and an appeal at the Administrative Court over the alleged interference in the building permit procedure.

He highlighted a suit against Culture Minister Vasko Simoniti and Jelka Pirkovič, acting head of the ministry's directorate for cultural heritage.

Shameful Condition of Plečnik's Stadium in Ljubljana: An Example of Poor Governance?

Both Pečečnik and OKS head Bogdan Gabrovec said that Prime Minister Janaz Janša had so far supported the BŠP project.

BŠP is owned by Pečečnik's company Elektronček (59%), the municipality of Ljubljana (28%), and the OKS (13%) as the owner of land.

Over EUR 12.4 million has already been invested in the project.

Both the OKS and Ljubljana remain BŠP's partners, with Gabrovec saying the OKS is hoping to get new premises for itself, various sport associations and a Slovenian Olympic Sport Centre.

21 Apr 2021, 15:12 PM

STA, 21 April 2021 - European Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson will start a two-day visit to Slovenia on Thursday to discuss the country's EU presidency preparations. She intends to raise the issue of media freedom and pluralism as well. Slovenia should not underestimate the risk to its international reputation when it comes to this, Johansson has told the STA.

The visit is primarily aimed at backing Slovenia's preparations for its EU presidency in the second half of 2021. The talks will focus on Schengen, migration and security as well as the situation of media in Slovenia, she told the STA ahead of the visit.

Johansson pointed out that this was not her portfolio, but that of European Commission Vice President for Values and Transparency Vera Jourova, who has raised concern over the situation on a number of occasions.

Since there is cause for concern, Johansson intends to raise the issue of media freedom and pluralism as well. She has also warned about harassment of journalists and verbal attacks against them.

Johansson would also like to discuss with the Slovenian government the financing of the Slovenian Press Agency (STA). "As far as I understand, it's regulated in the law," she said, hopeful that this issue could be resolved in a positive way.

"Slovenia should not underestimate the risk to its international reputation when it comes to media freedom and pluralism", especially just before taking over the EU presidency, she said, noting that these two principles "are a fundamental prerequisite for democracy".

The European Commission puts great emphasis on this issue as any pressure exerted on media freedom or pluralism or even attacks against them are also an attack on democracy, she said, adding that this was the first time this kind of concerns were raised about Slovenia.

The commissioner also pointed to the first annual Rule of Law Report, saying that the Commission already raised concern over the relevant situation in Slovenia in the September 2020 document. "As far as I understand, the situation has deteriorated since," she noted.

The Slovenian EU presidency could be a story of recovery as Europe will be going from pandemic mode to recovery mode during that time. Johansson hopes that Slovenia will take this opportunity "to be at the forefront of recovery in Europe".

Touching upon travel amid the pandemic in the summer, she is optimistic member states will not adopt discriminatory measures. She also hopes that come summer, the infection rate will go down and Europe could be reopened.

In June, right before the start of Slovenia's stint at the helm of the EU Council, Johansson plans to propose the Schengen reform. As part of the preparations, the first ever Schengen forum was launched in November to exchange views with various stakeholders. The second will be held in May.

The Commissioner highlights the need for political governance of the Schengen area and the upgrade of the Schengen evaluation system.

She also stresses the importance of lessons learned from the pandemic. The current legislation is based on a threat that comes towards a single member state, however the pandemic is widespread, she said.

In many situations, measures other than internal border checks are more effective, such as police cooperation and information exchange, she said, adding that the Schengen Information System should also be used more consistently.

She also hopes the Schengen zone could be extended. The Commission has assessed that Croatia, Romania and Bulgaria are ready for this step, but it is up to member states to decide on this, she said.

Johansson's main priority of her five-year term is to find a way out of an asylum reform deadlock. It seems that the new migration pact, proposed last year, has been at a standstill due to disagreements over migrant relocation, but the commissioner is optimistic.

She does not think the pact has been blocked, saying that everyone has been constructive in these efforts and there has been progress.

She hopes that Portugal's EU presidency will be able to close one or two segments of the pact, otherwise the Slovenian presidency will pick up.

She thinks mandatory solidarity, and not mandatory relocation, is a way forward as the latter is not popular in many member states. Now we should discuss what is a meaningful form of this solidarity apart from relocation, she noted.

The commissioner for home affairs will meet Slovenian Interior Minister Aleš Hojs on Thursday. She is also expected to meet Marko Gašperlin, the Slovenian who chairs the Frontex management board.

Moreover, a meeting is scheduled with Foreign Minister Anže Logar and relevant parliamentary committees.

After her visit, the commissioner will fly back to Brussels from Zagreb, so she will have the opportunity to meet Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković and Interior Minister Davor Božinović.

Regarding reports about violence against migrants perpetrated by the Croatian police, she said she was not satisfied with the situation and there were concerns, however the country had made progress. The Croatian authorities "are investigating and there are consequences for individuals that have been proved taking part in illegal activities".

Moreover, the first independent monitoring mechanism is in the works, a pilot project that is to be first launched in Croatia. "Bosnia-Herzegovina also has homework to do when it comes to migration management and migrant relocation within the country," she said.

Asked what she thought of ideas about redrawing Western Balkan borders in light of efforts for security and stability in the region, she said that "the European Commission fully respects sovereignty of those countries and their borders, we have no other ideas about their borders".

21 Apr 2021, 13:25 PM

STA, 20 April 2021 - Mario Fafangel, the head of the centre for communicable diseases at the National Institute of Public Health (NIJZ), has resigned from the team advising the government on measures to contain coronavirus, saying decisions taken are often in disagreement with the epidemiologists' opinion and protocols.

Fafangel, who had already resigned from the previous line-up of the advisory group under the leadership of Bojana Beović, joined the new team appointed by Health Minister Janez Poklukar and headed by Mateja Logar. Both Logar and Beović are experts on infectious diseases.

"When I received your invitation to rejoin the expert team I honestly believed things would be different this time around. They are different indeed, worse," Fafangel said in his resignation letter to Poklukar, stating his decision is irrevocable.

"In the advisory group to the Health Ministry the voice of the epidemiological college that I represent continues to be in minority and represents but one vote," he said.

He went on to say that he was distressed by the decisions that were often contrary to the epidemiologists' opinions. "Therefore I cannot and will not take part any longer."

"Continuously drawing attention to decisions that do not make sense and undermine established procedures of the epidemiological service and writing dissenting opinions for the record of the advisory team's meetings makes no sense and is unproductive," Fafangel added.

He was particularly critical of the way the 11-day circuit breaker lockdown at the beginning of the month was implemented, saying he found it horrible having to decide how or how many individuals could freely express their opinion about anything in a public space. "I do not want to play God," he said.

Minister Poklukar regretted Fafangel's resignation, thanking him for his contribution, while asking epidemiologist Irena Grmek Košnik to take his place in the group.

The Health Ministry said Grmek Košnik had accepted the invitation and would take over the role immediately.

Responding to the resignation, the advisory team said that its purpose was for leading experts to exchange opinions, and to make proposals on that basis, while final decisions were the competence and responsibility of the decision-makers.

"Every opinion in the group is appreciated, which is why we regret every decision by renown experts to no longer participate in looking for best solutions," adds the statement sent to the STA by the head of the group Mateja Logar.

MEP Tanja Fajon, the president of the opposition Social Democrats (SD), said Fafangel enjoyed a lot of public trust and added that she would "much rather see the government resign instead of Fafangel".

Fajon also said on Twitter that the resignation of the only epidemiologist from the expert group meant that something was very wrong and that the government exposed the reality of situation being out of control.

Prime Minister Janez Janša retweeted Fajon and added that this was the "latest proof that some do not differentiate between epidemiology and political science. They think that these are two different departments at the Faculty of Social Sciences."

21 Apr 2021, 11:34 AM

STA, 20 April 2021 - Supercomputer Vega was formally launched in Maribor on Tuesday, putting Slovenia on the global map of computer superpowers. It is the first in a series of eight planned high-performance computing (HPC) centres in the EU. 

Vega is a 6.9 petaflops supercomputer, which means it can do 6.9 million billion computing operations per second, and it cost EUR 17.2 million.

Currently the most powerful supercomputer in Slovenia has been set up as part of the national project to upgrade research infrastructure (HPC RIVR) and EuroHPC, a public-private partnership for European high-performance computing.

It is located at the Institute of Information Science (IZUM), whose director Aleš Bošnjak said there were currently only 13 countries in the world with more powerful supercomputers.

"Our supercomputing power is just behind that of the UK and before Russia's," University of Maribor Vice Dean Zoran Ren said at the online inauguration event. He believes it will enable Slovenian and European scientists outstanding discoveries.

European Commission Vice President in charge of digital transition Margrethe Vestager said the first supercomputer launched as part of EuroHPC was an excellent example of cooperation at various levels.

"Supercomputing will enable European small and medium-sized companies to enter the hi-tech economy of the future," she said in her address via video call.

She also pointed to the role European supercomputers could play in supporting artificial intelligence to produce new medicines and save lives.

Janša, who had the honour of turning on the computer by symbolically pressing a red button, also highlighted the role such machines have in addressing contemporary challenges, including Covid-19.

"Vega will enable scientists to discover new materials and components, help them model global phenomena, discover new medicines and medical therapies in the fight against cancer and other serious diseases.

"It will also help companies, mostly those developing the most state-of-the-art products, for instance in pharmacy, car industry or energy. With these and similar steps the EU is resolutely threading the path of strategic autonomy," he said.

Education and Science Minister Simona Kustec stressed top science, technology and advanced industry could develop only on the basis of top knowledge and infrastructure.

"The initiatives such as EuroHPC enable and encourage joint planning and investments in the European research area, thus further strengthening and connecting it."

Vega is named after 18th-century mathematician and physicist Jurij Vega.

It was co-funded by the EU from the European Regional Development Fund, the Ministry of Education and Science and EuroHPC.

The EU's other seven high-performance computing centres will be located in Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Finland, Italy, Luxembourg, Portugal and Spain.

21 Apr 2021, 11:14 AM

STA, 21 April 2021 - The Ljubljana District Court has sentenced Peter Gaspeti to 30 years in prison for killing three relatives with a knife in the area of Domžale, 15 km north of Ljubljana, last June. He got 12 years for each of the three criminal acts for a combined sentence of 30 years after the court reclassified the charges from murder to manslaughter.

The 25-year-old defendant will go to jail for killing his grandfather, grandmother and uncle, who were aged 74, 81 and 51, respectively.

He injured them with a knife to the point that they bled to death on the spot, and called the police himself.

The prosecution charged him with a triple murder carried out in a horrendous and heinous manner, demanding lifetime imprisonment.

Prosecutor Maša Podlipnik argued at previous hearings there was absolutely no alleviating circumstance for what Gaspeti had done.

Slovenia legislated lifetime imprisonment in 2008, but nobody has received such a sentence so far. This is only the second time the prosecution demanded it.

Judge Marjeta Dvornik said on Wednesday there was no doubt Gaspeti had committed the crimes, which however did not have all the elements to be classified as murders.

The court thus reclassified murder to manslaughter, which carries the highest prison sentence of 15 years.

It took into account Gaspeti's personality disorder, no criminal record, no history of violent behaviour and his doing all his school work regularly as alleviating circumstances, while the fact that he took the lives of his relatives for no reason was an aggravating circumstance.

The judge said he has no mental illness, while a personality disorder had been diagnosed, which led the court to reduce the sentence for each manslaughter from 15 to 12 years.

The court also extended Gaspeti's custody today, while the prosecution announced it will demand the criminal acts be reclassified back to murders.

His defence counsel Anže Mlinarič meanwhile claimed at previous hearings that the prosecution had failed to prove the crimes, and proposed acquittal.

The knife on which Gaspeti's biological traces were found was not compared with the wounds on the victims and the court failed to prove the motive, said Mlinarič, who will decide whether to appeal after studying the verdict.

Gaspeti had not taken the stand during the trial, having talked about what he did only with psychiatrists, so the motive for the crimes remains unclear.

The judge argued it would be good to prove the motive yet it is not vital for sentencing.

One of the psychiatrists diagnosed Gaspeti with a schizoid and partly narcissistic personality disorder, but said he had been aware of his actions.

The other diagnosed him with an unspecified psychotic disorder and mixed personality disorder, which Gaspeti cannot control, while being able to control how it manifests in relations with others.

Under Slovenian law, 30 years is the second highest possible prison sentence after life imprisonment, and has so far been handed down on several occasions.

The last time was in November 2019, when Marko Matić received it for a double murder of an older couple, who were his relatives, following a long property dispute.

21 Apr 2021, 04:43 AM

Check the date at the top of the page, and you can find all the "morning headlines" stories here. You can also follow us on Facebook and get all the news in your feed.

This summary is provided by the STA

SAF preparedness for wartime action remains insufficient

LJUBLJANA - President Borut Pahor received the annual report on the preparedness of the Slovenian Armed Forces (SAF) in which the SAF general staff assessed the force's preparedness in 2020 was good for peace time, but insufficient for war operations. The assessment thus remains the same as for the year before. Pahor accepted the latest report with the "justified hope that it will improve considerably in the coming years", pointing to the law securing EUR 780 million for investment in SAF by 2026. Defence Minister Matej Tonin promised Pahor an effort to make procurement transparent.

Janša due in Poland on Thursday

LJUBLJANA - Prime Minister Janez Janša is scheduled to pay a working visit to Poland on Thursday for meetings with his counterpart Mateusz Morawiecki and Marshal of the Sejm Elzbieta Witek, his office announced. The visit is aimed at strengthening political and economic cooperation. The officials will discuss current EU and foreign policy issues, with a focus on bilateral cooperation and the priorities of Slovenia's EU presidency, as well as cooperation in regional groupings.

Judge halts procedure against student protester

MARIBOR - A Maribor Local Court judge announced she would halt misdemeanour proceedings against a student for taking part in a peaceful protest in Maribor in February against school closures. The student's defence counsel Dino Bauk expects the same decision to be taken in the case of two other students facing the same proceedings. At the 9 February protest, six were fined EUR 400 for allegedly violating the communicable diseases act, while three underage students were summoned to appear before a magistrate.

Slovenia loses four spots in World Press Freedom Index

PARIS, France - Slovenia has lost four spots to rank 36th among 180 countries in the 2021 World Press Freedom Index compiled by Reporters Without Borders. The report warns of the "dangerous path for press freedom" in Slovenia, finding problems for press freedom continue despite pressure from international NGOs for improvements. "Defamation is still criminalised and well-known politicians continue to subject media outlets to intimidatory lawsuits and often slanderous verbal attacks."

Chief epidemiologist quits Covid-19 advisory team again

LJUBLJANA - Mario Fafangel, the head of the centre for communicable diseases at the National Institute of Public Health, resigned from the team advising the government on measures to contain coronavirus, saying decisions taken were often contrary to epidemiologists' opinions and protocols. Fafangel had already resigned from the previous line-up of the advisory group. Health Minister Janez Poklukar regretted his decision, appointing epidemiologist Irena Grmek Košnik in his place. The advisory team also regretted Fafangel's decision, noting that final Covid-related decisions were responsibility of the decision-makers.

Supercomputer Vega launched in Slovenia

MARIBOR - Supercomputer Vega was formally launched, putting Slovenia on the global map of computer super powers. It is the first in a series of eight planned high-performance computing (HPC) centres in the EU. Vega is a 6.9 petaflops supercomputer, which means it can do 6.9 million billion computing operations per second, and it cost EUR 17.2 million. Currently the most powerful supercomputer in Slovenia has been set up as part of the national project to upgrade research infrastructure (HPC RIVR) and EuroHPC, a public-private partnership for European high-performance computing.

Curve of infections continues on downward trajectory

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's curve of coronavirus infections keeps on its downward trajectory; 718 people tested positive on Monday to push the rolling 7-day average down to 737, data released by the government show. Five patients with Covid-19 died. Covid-19 hospitalisations dropped by three to 649 after 71 patients were admitted and 69 were discharged yesterday. ICU ceases dropped by one to 156. The effects of the 11-day lockdown around Easter are expected to show in hospitals within a week.

Tonin and Injac discuss bilateral cooperation in defence

LJUBLJANA - Montenegrin Defence Minister Olivera Injac began an official two-day visit to discuss with her Slovenian counterpart Matej Tonin defence cooperation, international missions and operations, and Slovenia's EU presidency in the second half of the year. The pair assessed bilateral cooperation as excellent. The ministers pledged further cooperation and exchange of experience in recruiting, while agreeing cooperation could be intensified in cyberdefence and crisis management.

Speaker Zorčič notes importance of Eastern Partnership

LJUBLJANA - Parliamentary Speaker Igor Zorčič addressed a virtual session of the Euronest Parliamentary Assembly, noting that the Eastern Partnership was an important framework for cooperation and that the priorities of Slovenia's upcoming presidency of the EU provided prospects to countries with a European aspiration. The forum sees members of the European Parliament and the national parliaments of Ukraine, Moldova, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia participate and forge closer political and economic ties with the EU.

Acting head of Government Office for Legislation named

LJUBLJANA - Mateja Lekan Štrukelj took over as the acting head of the Government Office for Legislation for a six-month period after being appointed by the government yesterday to succeed Miha Pogačnik, who was recently named the country's high representative for succession to the former Yugoslavia. Lekan Štrukelj, who previously served as deputy director of the office, was picked over Janez Pogorelec, a prominent member of the coalition New Slovenia (NSi).

Another proposal to include unaffiliated MPs in parliament's bodies defeated

LJUBLJANA - A proposal to reshuffle parliamentary working bodies to include four unaffiliated MPs who have recently defected was rejected after the first was voted down last week. The centre-left opposition parties and the unaffiliated MPs failed to garner an absolute majority for their second reshuffle attempt. Nevertheless, they intend to keep trying so that, they say, democracy is not undermined. The next proposal will base the reshuffle on the size of deputy groups. Speaker Igor Zorčič believes the situation will be hard to resolve.

Strabag's Koper-Divača project appeal rejected

LJUBLJANA - The National Review Commission announced it had rejected the appeal by the Austrian builder Strabag against the decision by the state-owned company 2TDK to pick a Slovenian-headed consortium as the contractor for the Divača-Črni Kal section of the new railway to the port of Koper. This ends all review procedures related to the project. Kolektor CPG will thus be able to sign a contract for the second section with 2TDK after signing the one for the Črni Kal-Koper section on 31 March. Work on the track is expected to begin in May.

Trade unions critical of coal phaseout strategy

LJUBLJANA - Two trade unions representing workers in the energy sector are critical of the Infrastructure Ministry's comments about the draft coal phaseout strategy. They say it is not true the phaseout will not have a major long-term effect on electricity prices, asserting the phaseout deadline is political. The draft national strategy sets 2033 as the deadline to phase out coal and restructure coal regions as part of the European Commission's initiative for transition.

ZSSS unions say national recovery plan neglects social recovery

LJUBLJANA - The trade unions associated in the ZSSS confederation believe the national recovery and resilience plan should promote social recovery and investment in human resources instead of just focussing on economic recovery, Andrej Zorko, ZSSS executive secretary, said at a news conference, noting that "the plan must be balanced" to result in a system that would facilitate social security, decent health care and decent old age. He also criticised the government for preparing it in secret.

NGO says govt not fully respecting top court's decision on rallies

LJUBLJANA - Democracy advocacy group The Legal Network for the Protection of Democracy believes that the amended government decree that limits protest rallies during the Covid-19 epidemic to 100 people does not follow the relevant decision of the Constitutional Court. It thus called on the government to respect the decision and find a solution supported by expert know-how under which individuals in Slovenia will be able to exercise their rights to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression.

Display showcases Slovenian anthropologist and her work in Paraguay

LJUBLJANA - The Slovenian Ethnographic Museum is launching an exhibition on Slovenian ethnologist and anthropologist Branislava Sušnik (1920-1996) and her work in Paraguay, presenting her key works and expeditions to areas inhabited by the indigenous peoples of Paraguay. The exhibition La Doctora: The Life and Work of a Slovene Researcher in Paraguay follows the story of Sušnik, whom at the end of the Second World War fate took to Paraguay where she ran the Ethnographic Museum, among other things.

Show explores ties between Slovenian artists, Croatian art academy

ZAGREB, Croatia - The National Museum of Contemporary Art in Croatia's Zagreb launched an exhibition of more than 100 works of art made mainly by Slovenians artists who studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb between both world wars when this was the only academy of its kind in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. The exhibition, running until 20 June, also puts on show several Croatian artists from that period. It is a collaboration of the museum and the academy and their Slovenian partner, the Božidar Jakac Gallery.

If you're learning Slovenian then you can find all our dual texts here


20 Apr 2021, 13:58 PM

STA, 20 April 2021 - Slovenia's curve of coronavirus infections keeps on its downward trajectory; 718 people tested positive on Monday to push the rolling 7-day average down further by 48 to 737, data released by the government show. Five patients with Covid-19 died.

Marking the sixth day that the daily increase in infections declined from the same day a week ago, the latest cases were confirmed from 3,537 PCR tests, for a positivity rate of 20.3%. In addition, 39,436 rapid antigen tests were performed.

When can I go to the pub? What the numbers mean for getting back to normal…

Covid-19 hospitalisations dropped by three to 649 after 71 patients were admitted and 69 were discharged yesterday. The number of patients in intensive care dropped by one to 156, Maja Bratuša, the government's Covid-19 spokesperson, told the daily press briefing on Tuesday.

Yesterday, Mateja Logar, the government's chief Covid-19 adviser, told reporters the effects of the 11-day lockdown around Easter should reflect in hospitals in about a week.

The cumulative 14-day incidence per 100,000 residents rose to 584 from 563 the day before and the 7-day average is at 246.

Infections are again reported at care homes despite most of the residents and staff being vaccinated against Covid-19.

Cveto Uršič, a state secretary at the Labour Ministry, said outbreaks were reported at care homes in Trbovlje, Domžale and the Ljubljana Fužine borough, while there were no infections in other regions.

In the week from 12 to 18 April, 47 care home residents were infected and 26 staff, up from nine residents and 19 staff in the week before.

"The number is very low considering there are about 18,900 residents and 12,200 staff in all care homes in the country," said Uršič.

Out of the 28 infected in the Trbovlje home, 26 had been vaccinated with two doses, while one had had Covid-19 before. The source of the infection has not been established.

The infected residents have been isolated, and Romana Martinčič, the director of the Trbovlje general hospital, said they all had mild symptoms and were not expected to require hospital care.

Martinčič believes they were likely infected with a new variant of the virus because transmissions are spreading fast. Samples are still being analysed to establish what the mutation was.

The Domžale care home has seven confirmed infections, including in a new resident. Most are not displaying symptoms, while one of the infected residents whose condition had been bad before caught the virus has died, said Uršič.

All residents in the home except one who had recovered from Covid-19 before had received two jabs of the Covid-19.

Eleven residents also tested positive in the care home in Ljubljana's Fužine borough. Six of them had been inoculated twice and two once, while three had neither been vaccinated nor had had the disease before. The source of infections has not been established yet.

Data from the National Institute of Public Health (NIJZ) show a total of 374,730 people have received the first dose of a vaccine against Covid-19 and 146,355 have received two, which means 7% of the population has been fully immunised.

Slovenia has reported 233,033 coronavirus cases since the start of the pandemic, of which 12,306 are active cases, according to NIJZ.

20 Apr 2021, 12:14 PM

STA, 19 April - Two more Romanian lynxes arrived in Slovenia the past weekend as part of the international Life Lynx project after one arrived in March. The male Zois and female Aida will first spend some time in the adjustment enclosure in Jelovica in the north before being released into the wild.

Five lynxes are to arrive in the Gorenjska and Primorska regions by the end of the year.

The transport of the two wild cats was carried out smoothly, as an experienced team from the Ljubljana Zoo and the Forest Service was in charge of the project, says on the website of the project.

As the two lynxes will be adapting to the new environment in the enclosure, local hunters will look after them. Since lynxes are very timid animals, it is important that they are not disturbed, so the location of the enclosure has not been made public and people are urged not to approach it.

Hunters also picked the name for the male, naming him after one of the most influential figures of the Enlightenment Era in the Slovenian lands, Žiga Zois (1747-1819).

The resettlement of Zois and Aida marks the end of the third successful season for the Romanian ACDB team catching the animals. So far the team has caught eight lynxes as part of the Life Lynx project that will help save the lynx population of the Dinaric Alps and SE Alps from extinction.

According to the partners to the project, this year has been exceptional in terms of catching lynxes for resettlement. Slovakian and Romanian partners activated box traps in January and caught six lynxes for resettlement by the end of the March.

Two males and a female were caught in Romania, and a male and two females in Slovakia.

The first lynx, which was caught in Romania at the end of January, was moved to the adjustment enclosure in Pokljuka in March.

Primary school students from the Community of Schools of the Julian Alps Biosphere Reserve named him Tris, which is a compound of Mt Triglav and the Slovenian world for lynx.

He is to wait for two more females in the enclosure before they are all released into the wild.

The two female lynxes that were caught in Slovakia in March are also to be moved to the Gorenjska region, while the male caught in Slovakia will go to Croatia.

There have been no reports of reproduction of lynxes in the Gorenjska region since early 20th century, so the Life Lynx project aims to create a connective population of the wild cats at the intersection of the Dinaric Alps and SE Alps, which is to improve the natural gene flow and increase the chances for mating with neighbouring lynx populations in the Alps.

20 Apr 2021, 11:45 AM

STA, 19 April 2021- Celje police have indicted 15 suspects over 49 counts related to drug trafficking, transport of illegal migrants, classified information leaking and bribery, Celje Criminal Police chief Damijan Turk told the press on Monday.

The police completed a large investigation of drug trafficking, which started in mid-2020, conducting 16 house searches and arresting 12 suspects last week.

Seven suspects were brought before an investigating magistrate on Friday, with six remanded in custody.

The drug ring based in the broader area of Celje featured several citizens of Slovenia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and North Macedonia, who purchased, stored and sold cocaine and cannabis across the country.

Its individual members also organised transport of illegal migrants from Croatia via Slovenia to Italy.

"In two cases, police pulled over individual members of the ring with 58 migrants and two drivers while they were en route to Italy," said Turk.

"In another two cases, the ring managed to successfully take illegal migrants across the border from Slovenia to Italy."

During the investigation, the police realised the ring had some sensitive information, only to discover that they had received them from a Celje District Court employee.

The stenographer, working for the criminal department since 2018, provided the ring information such as what activities police would conduct or where, for personal gain.

The suspect has disclosed at least 100 sensitive documents, as a result of which a large number of investigations were less successful than they could have been.

If found guilty, he could go to jail for up to eight years, Turk said in a statement to the press.

The Celje District Court said the stenographer was no longer employed at the court, and no longer has access to the court's premises or data bases.

It explained that the suspect had had access to the sensitive data as part of his job.

The 15 suspects have been indicted for 38 counts related to drug production or trafficking, six to leaking classified information, one to giving a bribe, and four to illegal crossing of the border.

The suspects are aged from 22 to 50, with the oldest among them having had run-ins with the police before.

20 Apr 2021, 04:54 AM

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This summary is provided by the STA

Janša condemns extremism after protest in front of Slovenian embassy

LJUBLJANA - PM Janez Janša condemned extremism after members of a radical Islamist group in Bosnia and Herzegovina protested in front of the Slovenian embassy in Sarajevo Sunday over an alleged non-paper linked to Slovenia that speaks about the breakup of Bosnia along ethnic lines. "Slovenian and other extremists who sow chaos are only causing damage," he said on Twitter noting that Slovenia had stopped dealing with the breakup of Yugoslavia in 1991, when it became independent. FM Anže Logar added that reviving a debate on the alleged non-paper benefited neither Bosnia-Herzegovina nor Slovenia. The debate is in fact "very harmful to Slovenia" and many things about it is "spreading non-truths and half-truths".

Gatherings of up to 100 allowed as outdoor hospitality reopens

LJUBLJANA - The months-long ban on assemblies was lifted as gatherings of up to 100 people are allowed again to gather for pre-registered rallies under strict mask-wearing and social-distancing rules. The government lifted the ban after it had been stayed by the Constitutional Court. Moreover, outdoor hospitality reopened in eight of the country's 12 statistical regions. The easing stepped in force in the regions of Pomurje, Podravje, Koroška, Zasavska, Gorenjska, Goriška and Obalno-Kraška.

Coronavirus count down for 5th day

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia recorded 234 coronavirus cases on Sunday, the fifth straight day that the daily increase in infections declined from the same day a week ago. The rolling 7-day average thus dropped to 785, government data show. However, hospitalisations rose by a further 21 to 652 and ICU cases rose by three to 157. Another eight patients with Covid-19 died. Data from the National Institute of Public Health show 4,461 people have died within 28 days of testing positive for coronavirus.

Orders received for over 2,600 jabs for matura students, staff

LJUBLJANA - The National Institute of Public Health (NIJZ) has received an order for 2,625 shots of Corona-19 vaccine for final-year secondary school students taking the matura exam this year and the staff involved, while others will receive the leftover shots in what is voluntary vaccination. Almost 17,000 students will take the school-leaving exam this year. The students over 18 who applied for the vaccination will receive the AstraZeneca vaccine, while the underage students will be inoculated with the Pfizer and BioNTech vaccines. The NIJZ has received 47 orders for the latter, the institute told the STA.

EU presidency more demanding due to pandemic

LJUBLJANA - Gregor Štajer, the head of the government secretariat in charge of presidency organisation, told the STA Slovenia's spell at the presidency of the EU in the second half of the year will be even more demanding than usually owing to the coronavirus pandemic. The events calendar is not ready for release yet, but Štajer said the way things stand at the moment Slovenia will host 185 events. However, many may have to take place online, depending on the Covid situation.

Janša highlights role of Slovenian army during independence

LJUBLJANA - PM Janez Janša stressed at a ceremony marking thirty years since the passage of the military service act that the process of the passage of the act had been difficult. He also stressed that the Slovenian Armed Forces had played a key role in Slovenia's independence. The act was passed on 18 April 1991 after an almost six-moth government and parliamentary procedure and despite enormous resistance, Jaša said at the ceremony in the National Council. The start of military training was "a big, extremely important and irreplaceable step towards independence," he added.

Top court says auditors may review central bank supervision

LJUBLJANA - The Constitutional Court decided the Court of Audit has the right to scrutinise the supervisory practices of the central bank, as it decided that several provisions of legislation that had been challenged by the central bank are not unconstitutional. The decision marks the latest chapter in a years long battle concerning the central bank's role in the EUR 5 billion bailout, which was the primary reason why the law was changed in 2017 to give the Court of Audit the power to audit the central bank's decisions leading to the bailout. The Court of Audit said it was satisfied with the decision.

Fiscal Council raises issues with budgeting documents

LJUBLJANA - The Fiscal Council reviewed government budgeting documents for the upcoming period, finding that projections for 2021 and 2022 indicate an expansionary fiscal policy, which it said was understandable, but said some measures were structural and would weigh down on the fiscal position. The council's head, Davorin Kračun, also said that part of expenditure projections for 2023 and 2024 unrealistic because a projected decrease in spending was not supported by measures.

Virtual conference on Latin America and the Caribbean starts

LJUBLJANA - FM Anže Logar pointed out as he addressed the start of a virtual conference dedicated to Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) hosted by the Foreign Ministry and the Bled Strategic Forum that Slovenia would strive to strengthen partnership with the region during its upcoming EU presidency. Logar said in a video address that the relations between Slovenia, Latin America and the Caribbean had been traditionally good but that there were still many opportunities to strengthen cooperation, especially in economy, science and technology, the Foreign Ministry said.

ARSO no longer in charge of environment-related administrative procedures

LJUBLJANA - The Ministry of the Environment and Spatial Planning is assuming all administrative procedures related to the environment from the Environment Agency (ARSO). The reorganisation, to be completed by 1 July, is expected to speed up the procedures as part of the government's debureaucratisation drive, Minister Andrej Vizjak said. As part of the reorganisation, a complaint against what is now an ARSO decision could no longer be filed with the ministry, but directly at the Administrative Court.

Poll shows govt support keeps falling

LJUBLJANA - The Vox Populi poll for April shows support for the government continues to fall while there are also more respondents who consider its performance successful. The ruling Democrats (SDS) continued to poll highest among political parties whereas over a fifth of the respondents had problems with access to healthcare during the Covid epidemic. 67.3% of those polled labelled the government's performance as unsuccessful, up 0.1 of a percentage point on March and the lowest since it came into office in March 2020. However, the share of those who said the government was successful also increased.

Drug ring busted, 15 suspects indicted

CELJE - Celje police have indicted 15 suspects over 49 counts related to drug trafficking, transport of illegal migrants, classified information leaking and bribery, as an investigation that started in mid-2020, concluded last week with 16 house searches and arrests of 12 suspects, Celje Criminal Police chief Damijan Turk said. The drug ring based in the Celje area several citizens of Slovenia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and North Macedonia, who purchased, stored and sold cocaine and cannabis across the country. Its individual members also organised transport of illegal migrants from Croatia via Slovenia to Italy.

Ljubljana city council endorses Rog project

LJUBLJANA - The Ljubljana city council endorsed the decree establishing the public institute Rog Centre that is to be set up in the defunct Ljubljana bicycle factory Rog. This comes after an autonomous social and cultural community was evicted from the premises in January. In line with the decree, Rog will become an interdisciplinary and multicultural public creative and production centre after renovation. The public institute will have a board, director and two assistant directors. Bids in a tender for renovation and construction of the premises, published at the end of March, will be reviewed on Friday.

Koper museum's independence exhibition upsets some veterans

KOPER - An exhibition on Slovenia's independence that is being mounted by the Koper Regional Museum has upset the Association for the Values of Slovenian Independence, an outfit led by Interior Minister Aleš Hojs, which believes the plan to remember the deaths of members of the Yugoslav army is an act of provocation. The museum, under the leadership of Luka Juri, a former MP for the SocDems, said independence-related events would be presented in an objective and comprehensive manner.

Slovenian Olympic torch to visit all Slovenian municipalities

LJUBLJANA - The Slovenian Olympic torch will pass through all Slovenian municipalities between 3 May and 23 July, as over 5,000 runners will carry the symbol of the Olympic Games over the 81 days in the run-up to the start of the Summer Olympics in Tokyo. The Slovenian Olympic Committee will organise the relay in conjunction with the police, while sports fans have been urged to monitor its progress online given that epidemic restrictions remain in place.

Two more Romanian lynxes arrive in Slovenia

BOHINJ - Two more Romanian lynxes arrived in Slovenia the past weekend as part of the international Life Lynx project after one arrived in March. The male Zois and female Aida will first spend some time in the adjustment enclosure in Jelovica in the north before being released into the wild as part of the project conducted by the Ljubljana Zoo and the Forest Service. Five lynxes are to arrive in the Gorenjska and Primorska regions by the end of the year.

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