Janša Calls on State Prosecutor to Take Action Against Any Anti-Govt Protestors Inciting Violence

By , 03 Jul 2020, 10:31 AM Politics
A sculpture of Janša at a recent protest A sculpture of Janša at a recent protest JL Flanner

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STA, 2 July 2020 - PM Janez Janša has sent a letter to State Prosecutor General Drago Šketa, saying the prosecution is neglecting its legal role in relation to the anti-government protests for failing to respond to inciting to violence. The letter in which he also says Šketa will be responsible if the violence escalates has been met with strong criticism.

Janša published the letter dated 19 June in full on Twitter today after the newspaper Dnevnik ran an article about it. Janša tweeted he had decided to publish the letter "because the unofficial Official Gazette of the deep state (globoka država), Dnevnik.si, published insinuations" about the letter.

In the letter, the prime minister says that "we have been witnessing stepping up of organised death threats" in recent months and that the prosecution was passively observing this despite the clear restrictions that the Constitution and the Penal Code impose on such behaviour. Janša says that in some cases the prosecution indirectly even encourages such behaviour.

"You will be directly responsible for any potential victims of the organised threats," Janša wrote Šketa, referring to slogans and banners reading "Death to Janšism".

He also says that members of different extremist organisations from neighbouring and other countries, which are known for the use of street violence and other types of violence, are taking part in the protests held on Fridays, calling for a violent bringing down of the existing constitutional order. "And the state prosecution is silent like a fish in the tank."

Janša notes that slogans such as Juden Raus or Death to Fascism have in the past led to the killings of first individuals and then to genocide and crimes against humanity.

The prime minister sees the events at the anti-government protests as "organised death threats to an entire democratic political bloc", and calls on Šketa to act before it is too late.

Šketa responded to the letter today by asserting that the prosecution was efficient and acting in line with the Constitution and law.

He said that he had been noticing a growing amount of intolerance and hostility in the public discourse for years. Noting that he never gave any guidelines or instructions to prosecutors, who must be fully independent in their work, Šketa said that reports on the work of the prosecution showed that prosecutors decided to act against inciting to violence or hostility only when they detect legally-set signs of a criminal act or offence.

According to Dnevnik, the State Prosecutorial Council discussed the letter on Monday and is expected to publicly respond to it next week.

A much stronger reaction meanwhile came from former State Prosecutor General Zvonko Fišer, who told Dnevnik that he had not witnessed such a move in his entire career as prosecutor, not even in Yugoslavia.

He finds this kind of pressure completely inappropriate and inadmissible.

Heavy criticism also came from the head of the opposition Social Democrats (SD), Tanja Fajon, who said the letter was "very inappropriate, presumptuous and unacceptable".

She sees it is yet another attack on independent institutions and a severe encroachment upon another branch of power, which is why the party plans to initiate an impeachment motion against the PM.

At least ten MPs can initiate the impeachment, so SD MPs alone could do it. Fajon said the party had not discussed the move with other opposition parties yet.

The Justice Ministry told Dnevnik that the law enforcement was in charge of passing judgements on individual actions and was completely independent and that the law enforcement must be allowed to do its job professionally. If it fails to do so, certain surveillance mechanisms are available.

This was echoed by Justice Minister Lilijana Kozlovič before today's government session. Asked whether she sees Janša's letter as a form of pressure on an independent branch of power, she said this was the PM's decision, which was why she would not comment.

She noted though that any kind of intolerance or hostility must be processed as part of a criminal or minor offence proceedings because too much of that was happening.

Asked to comment on the statements by the outgoing interior minister, Aleš Hojs, that the National Bureau of Investigation and the crime police were full of staff linked to the firmer Communist secret service UDBA and the Communist Party, Kozlovič said she had no such information.

The Office of President Borut Pahor, which also received a copy of the letter, said that the prosecution must be independent in its work.

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