STA, 17 November 2020 - The Supreme Court has annulled a ruling upholding the dismissal of a damages claim by the now ruling Slovenian Democratic Party (SDS) against the state over the Patria defence corruption trial, returning the case to the Maribor Higher Court for a retrial, the news web portal Nova24TV has reported.
The party claimed EUR 886,000 in pecuniary damages because its leader Janez Janša was sentenced to prison ahead of the 2014 general election over a 2006 defence procurement deal. His and co-defendants' convictions were overturned by the Constitutional Court in 2015.
The party argued it sustained irreparable damage through the conviction, alleging that "unlawful conduct" by the judiciary in the Patria case affected the party's results in the general elections in 2011 and 2014 as the events related to the trial coincided with the election campaign and elections. Janša was ordered to report in prison shortly before the snap election in 2014.
The damages suit was dismissed by the Ljubljana District Court in May 2018 on the grounds that the plaintiff failed to prove unlawful conduct by judges in the trial. The judgement was then upheld by the Higher Court in Maribor.
However, in a decision that Nova24TV reports has been unanimous the Supreme Court has granted an appeal on a point of law over the question whether the second-instance court may have breached constitutional provisions on equal protection of rights and right to judicial protection and the contentious civil procedure act due to insufficient explanation of the judgement.
The party's counsel Franci Matoz is convinced the Maribor Higher Court will now be obliged to take their arguments into consideration, according to Nova24TV.
Janša also claims EUR 900,000 in damages himself. The case has recently been moved by the Supreme Court from the district court in Celje to the one in Kranj, after Janša's lawyer initially demanded a transfer from the Ljubljana District Court.
Meanwhile, co-defendants have already reached settlements with the state on their claims for wrongful imprisonment.