STA, 1 July - Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek does not intend to step down following yesterday's house searches related to an investigation into alleged wrongdoing in the procurement of medical and personal protective equipment during the epidemic. He told the press today that he had Prime Minister Janez Janša's full support to carry on.
The Modern Centre Party (SMC) leader also said he was not indifferent to the probe, but had cooperated with the police investigators and had provided all the evidence. He expects them to do their work constructively and promptly.
The minister was not surprised by the investigation, saying it was a result of all the pressure, political manoeuvring and insinuations that has appeared in the public.
"I'm not going to apologise for the decisions I took during the epidemic to prevent the loss of lives, but will defend them everywhere and always."
Except for a tweet on Tuesday evening, this is Počivalšek's first statement after Tuesday's house searches. He denied reports he had been detained, saying he had merely been deprived of his liberty for the duration of the searches in line with standard procedure.
The minister insisted that the government had merely pursued the goal of securing enough equipment, which was vitally needed during the epidemic. Even though conditions were tough and a state of emergency reigned, all actions were legal and transparent, he said.
"We've been witnessing a persistent and political distorting of basic and objective data to an extent where our successful fight with the epidemic has been completely devalued before the Slovenian public," he said, arguing this might benefit some political groups but not the country.
Announcing full cooperation, Počivalšek said he took the investigation "seriously and above all with the awareness and understanding that the institutions in charge need to do their job".
The minister believes the agony around the procurement during the crisis will continue until all institutions present their findings. He added that presumption of innocence was a principle that seemed to be overlooked often in these times.
Počivalšek also said he had managed to talk with some SMC members after the police probe to establish there was even more determination now to move forward together.
He expressed regret Aleš Hojs resigned as interior minister because of the investigation, saying they had cooperated well in the government.
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