What Mladina & Demokracija Are Saying This Week: Corruption Unpunished vs Political Bias at Constitutional Court

By , 19 Oct 2019, 08:54 AM Politics
A rare double cover, this time for Janez Janša A rare double cover, this time for Janez Janša From the Facebook pages of the weeklies

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The covers and editorials from leading weeklies of the Left and Right for the work-week ending Friday, 18 October, 2019

Mladina: Puzzled by inaction in corruption cases

STA, 18 October 2019 – Mladina, the left-wing weekly, takes a look at several cases of alleged corruption and wrongdoing, wondering how it is possible that none of the involved politicians has been found guilty, while an ordinary citizen would definitely be punished or at leased fined for similar crimes.

The weekly's editor-in-chief Grega Repovž lists on Friday a number of cases related to Ljubljana Mayor Zoran Jankovič, SDS leader Janez Janša, former Maribor Mayor Franc Kangler and former Koper Mayor Boris Popovič after TV Slovenija has recently run a story about Janković's old suspicious cases.

"Entire Slovenia has been witnessing these developments for years, and we all have a clear picture of things. We are also all aware that the destiny of an average Joe would have been sealed long ago, either with a prison sentence or at least a fine."

Repovž wonders why nothing has happened in these cases. Is it because of judges, are there too few of them and are they busy with other trivial cases, is it how the courts are organised, are there two few specialised prosecutors and experts on corporate crime, corruption and political corruption, do judges and prosecutors lack proper training.

Is it the fact that the professions of judge and prosecutor are ever less prestigious, or is it poorly written and dated legislation, the magazine wonders.

Meanwhile, the defendants are usually well off and can afford the best of lawyers and advisers who can dedicate hours and hours to their case, whereas for a prosecutor or a judge, this is just one in hundred cases and court hearings. Mladina also points a finger at the Constitutional Court for having annulled, to the benefit of the defendants, any attempt to tighten up legislation.

"This is all true and remains the basic challenge for Slovenian society, in which it is increasingly hard to believe. But for a society to be fully functioning, people have to believe in it," says Repovž.

He wonders how people should decide in such cases - along political lines or personal alliances. "Should people turn a blind eye to Janković because he is allegedly a good mayor or simply because he is at the helm of Ljubljana, because having an SDS mayor would make everything automatically worse?"

Repovž also wonders in his editorial headlined First-Rate what one should think when no other than Janša and Kangler attack Janković in a rally in the centre of Ljubljana saying he gets a preferential treatment by courts "because he is a first-rate citizen".

Demokracija: Reputation of Slovenia's top court compromised

STA, 17 October 2019 - The right-leaning weekly Demokracija argues in the latest commentary that constitutional judge Matej Accetto should step down because he undermined the court's reputation and authority after it transpired that he failed to disqualify himself for decision-making despite his ties with the Modern Centre Party (SMC).

Under the headline the Case of Judge Matej Accetto, editor in-chief Jože Biščak writes that the e-mails released this week prove that Accetto made extensive proposals and opinions in the creation of the SMC's platform in 2014 and acted as a "tacit supporter" for the party of Miro Cerar.

Biščak notes that Accetto has been involved in decision-making on two political cases, the 2017 referendum on the Koper-Divača rail track and the foreigners act, both of which had to do with what was the ruling party in the previous term.

The Constitutional Court rejected a request for the judge's recusal at least two times, satisfied with his explanation that he was not involved in the work on the SMC platform.

Biščak notes the Constitutional Court's key role for the country's rule of law, freedom and democracy, saying that the public's trust in its rulings depends on the judges' ethical conduct, and its belief that the judges are unbiased, independent and fair.

"Judge Matej Accetto trampled all that, he tarnished the reputation of the Constitutional Court. No one would take a grudge against him if he had recused himself in the mentioned (political cases). He would have demonstrated the high standards he abided by himself and could have expected the same from his colleagues.

"As it is, he lied not only to fellow judges but also to parties in procedure and the entire public. Now that it has all come to light he should resign. Irrevocably ... His is not just a case of likely bias but of political and ideological bias par excellence."

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