STA, 14 February 2019 - Andrej Šiško, the self-styled leader of a paramilitary unit whose footage stirred Slovenia in mid-2018, pleaded not guilty to inciting to violent subversion of the constitutional order at a pre-trial arraignment held in Maribor on Thursday.
Šiško, who was apprehended last September after a video surfaced of a para-military group parading in the woods of north-eastern Slovenia, argued he was the only one in Slovenia who had actively called for the preservation of the constitution.
The 49-year-old former ultras leader announced he would present the reasons for his provocation during the trial, to start on 6 March.
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Šiško, who had also called for the formation of other militias around the country and uttered a threat against then Prime Minister Miro Cerar in January 2017, is to be tried together with the man allegedly responsible for the footage, Matej Lesjak. The latter also pleaded not guilty.
The defendants' lawyers requested today that President Borut Pahor, Prime Minister Marjan Šarec, Cerar as well opposition leader Janez Janša appear for testimony during the trial.
Šiško's lawyer Lucija Ušaj argued Pahor, as commander in chief, could explain if Slovenia's Armed Forces could really be defeated by a "sports club whose members use airsoft guns", Cerar could say how threatened he really felt, while Janša could speak about his past proposals to form a national guard.
As to Šarec, the defence claim that his public calls constituted direct interference in the criminal prosecution of the defendants. Only after Šarec's calls were the conterminous actions labelled as a crime, one for which no case law exists in Slovenia.
This was rejected in the strongest terms by prosecutor Tilen Ivič, who hopes "nobody really believes that interfering" in the judicial branch of power is possible.
Šiško, the head of the nationalist non-parliamentary party United Slovenia, has been in custody since September because all his appeals for release failed.
He was apprehended on 6 September, three days after a video emerged of him lining up several dozen men, some allegedly armed, wearing balaclavas and conducting what appeared to be basic military training.