State Secretary Resigns After DUI Following Meeting With Banana Firm

By , 16 Apr 2020, 13:54 PM Politics
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STA, 16 April 2020 - Interior Minister Aleš Hojs has accepted the resignation of Franc Breznik, a state secretary at the ministry who was caught drink driving and speeding. "People have to be held to account for such mistakes," Hojs told the press on Thursday.

Breznik, an MP for the ruling Democrats (SDS) before he was named state secretary, was driving a ministry car when he was pulled over by a patrol on the Ljubljana ring road on 2 April.

The breathalyser test showed 0.44 milligrams of alcohol per litre of exhaled air, 0.20 mg above the acceptable limit. He was also driving 20 km/h above the speed limit.

Hojs, who found out about the incident from the media, said he had been assured by acting Police Commissioner Anton Travner that the police had not intentionally targeted Breznik in what would have been a repeat of a 2015 incident involving the then public administration minister.

The minister, who had announced on Wednesday he would check the conduct of the officers, said that the police had behaved professionally.

While adding there were cases of mayors in Slovenia who continued to serve despite being caught drink driving, Hojs said Breznik probably did not inform him earlier because "everybody has been working 16 or 18 hours a day". Breznik told him he had planned to tell him at a meeting this Friday.

Hojs is meanwhile puzzled by the police preferring to first share the story with the media. "Obviously certain police officers are fonder of journalists than their leadership," he said.

Breznik told commercial broadcaster POP TV yesterday that he had met with the representatives of Derby, a major importer of exotic fruits, to arrange a donation for humanitarian organisations in his hometown of Lenart. He said he had had two shots of liquor at the meeting.

The circumstances have raised some eyebrows, as Derby, owned by Izet Rastoder, was reportedly involved in January in criminal investigation into trafficking in illegal drugs.

Cocaine Found in Slovenian Banana Shipment, Company Denies Involvement

While the media reported cocaine had been found among bananas shipped by Derby, Rastoder said he was the victim of a criminal cartel. The company issued a statement saying the suspects apprehended were not linked to Derby and that accessible data showed Rastoder was not the subject of investigation.

Breznik's is far from being the first drink driving incident featuring a senior official.

The list includes former Local Government Minister Henrik Gjerkeš who resigned in 2010 after being caught with 0.64 mg/L, ex National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) head Bruno Blažina who stepped down in 2013 after crashing into a road maintenance vehicle while driving drunk, and former Ambassador to Bosnia Nataša Vodušek who served nine months in prison after seriously injuring a man while drink driving in 2008.

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