Erjavec Faces Growing Pressure Over Army Officer Sacking

By , 14 Jun 2019, 10:58 AM Politics
Karl Erjavec Karl Erjavec DeSUS' Facebook

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STA, 13 June 2019 - The deputy chair of the Commission for the Oversight of Intelligence and Security Services Žan Mahnič has accused Defence Minister Karl Erjavec of having fabricated the reasons for the April dismissal of Miha Škerbinc as the force commander of the Slovenian Armed Forces.

Mahnič said the testimony given today for the parliamentary commission by Škerbinc had shown that Škerbinc had not spoken ill of the health of Maj-Gen Alenka Ermenc, the chief of the general staff, as well as that Škerbinc had not been responsible for late-night shooting at the Poček training grounds.

According to the MP for the opposition Democrats (SDS), Škerbinc attributed the reports about his comments on Ermenc to "informal informants" within the army who also spread false rumours.

One such rumour led to media reports that Ermenc would be replaced, which is something Škerbinc said he strongly opposed although he might have been misunderstood in the process, Mahnič told the press.

While Minister Erjavec is facing an ouster motion for allegedly abusing the Defence Ministry's Intelligence and Security Service (OVS) to gather information on Škerbinc, Mahnič said Škerbinc said today nobody from OVS had actually asked him, in what had been unusual sets of questions, whether he had in fact spoken inappropriately of Ermenc's health.

As for the Poček night shooting drills that upset the local community, Mahnič said Škerbinc had provided documents showing the shooting had been conducted in line with the guidelines provided by the government and Defence Ministry.

According to Mahnič, the documents show Erjavec had lied about Škerbinc's responsibility and about the shooting not being planned.

The commission decided today it would also interview Ermenc, the OVS members involved in the Škerbinc inquiries as well as OVS director Dejan Matijevič, Mahnič announced.

Erjavec has been rejecting claims that the night shooting had been in line with government-approved plans, saying the army had failed to make adjustments after a plan of exercises approved by the government in January.

The minister also dismissed Škerbinc's referencing of the documents put forward today - these in fact make up a report by Ermenc on the developments - arguing they do not go into the details of the training conducted and of all the documents issued in relation to it.

Ermenc's report, which has also been obtained by the media, however states that all agreements and guidelines adopted in relation to training at Poček had been honoured by the army.

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