STA, 14 February 2019 - Andrej Šiško, the self-styled leader of a paramilitary unit whose footage stirred Slovenia in mid-2018, pleaded not guilty to inciting to violent subversion of the constitutional order at a pre-trial arraignment held in Maribor on Thursday.
Šiško, who was apprehended last September after a video surfaced of a para-military group parading in the woods of north-eastern Slovenia, argued he was the only one in Slovenia who had actively called for the preservation of the constitution.
The 49-year-old former ultras leader announced he would present the reasons for his provocation during the trial, to start on 6 March.
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Šiško, who had also called for the formation of other militias around the country and uttered a threat against then Prime Minister Miro Cerar in January 2017, is to be tried together with the man allegedly responsible for the footage, Matej Lesjak. The latter also pleaded not guilty.
The defendants' lawyers requested today that President Borut Pahor, Prime Minister Marjan Šarec, Cerar as well opposition leader Janez Janša appear for testimony during the trial.
Šiško's lawyer Lucija Ušaj argued Pahor, as commander in chief, could explain if Slovenia's Armed Forces could really be defeated by a "sports club whose members use airsoft guns", Cerar could say how threatened he really felt, while Janša could speak about his past proposals to form a national guard.
As to Šarec, the defence claim that his public calls constituted direct interference in the criminal prosecution of the defendants. Only after Šarec's calls were the conterminous actions labelled as a crime, one for which no case law exists in Slovenia.
This was rejected in the strongest terms by prosecutor Tilen Ivič, who hopes "nobody really believes that interfering" in the judicial branch of power is possible.
Šiško, the head of the nationalist non-parliamentary party United Slovenia, has been in custody since September because all his appeals for release failed.
He was apprehended on 6 September, three days after a video emerged of him lining up several dozen men, some allegedly armed, wearing balaclavas and conducting what appeared to be basic military training.
STA, 7 December 2018 - The Maribor Prosecution Office has filed an indictment against Andrej Šiško, the leader of a para-military unit that call themselves the Štajerska Guard, who has been in custody since early September.
Darko Simonič, the head of the prosecution office, said the indictment, alleging instigation to the subversion of the constitutional order, was filed with the Maribor District Court on Thursday.
The prosecution also proposed for Šiško to be remanded in custody. The last monthly extension of his detention would expire on 12 December.
Once an indictment is filed, the court's pre-trial panel of judges may extend detention for up to two years.
"Considering that the court has always supported us on custody, except for the first investigating judge, there's probably no dilemma about custody. Nothing that would warrant a different conduct has happened in the meantime," Simonič said.
Šiško was apprehended on 6 September, three days after a video emerged of him lining up several dozen men, some armed, wearing balaclavas and conducting what appeared to be basic military training.
After extending his 48-hour detention twice, the investigating judge released him, but he was brought back into custody on 12 September after a court panel reverted the judge's decision.
The Supreme Court rejected his appeal against detention, upholding the lower courts' reasoning that there were reasonable grounds to believe the suspect formed a para-military unit and called for the formation of other militias across Slovenia that would, when the time was right, bring down the highest authorities of the state.
Šiško and his counsel Viktor Osim argued that Šiško's conduct did not amount to instigation to the subversion of constitutional order.
Šiško, a former ultras leader who has served prison for attempted murder, argued the line-up was a provocation meant to disclose how Slovenian media work. However, he had called for the establishment of other such militias around the country.
The Supreme Court noted his past conduct, from the utterance of a threat against then Prime Minister Miro Cerar in January 2017 to the formation of the para-military unit.
Osim said today he was not surprised by the timing of the indictment, arguing that it would help the prosecution to avoid the decision on custody being taken by the Supreme Court.
He plans to appeal against the indictment at any case, although he had not yet been formally notified of it being filed.
Information available to him indicates that the indictment also concerns co-defendant Matej Lesjak, a former member of the youth wing of the Democratic Party (SDS) who allegedly filmed the paramilitary formation's training, but his lawyer Mihael Jenčič could not confirm the information for the STA because he had not yet received the indictment.
Osim had proposed taking witness statements from PM Marjan Šarec, his predecessor in office Miro Cerar and President Borut Pahor so they will be able to tell whether they felt threatened by Šiško.
Osim also proposes hearing Janez Janša, the leader of the opposition Democratic Party (SDS), who he said publicly proposed forming a national guard or a para-military formation back in 2015.
Šiško is the head of the non-parliamentary party United Slovenia. He stood in the 2017 presidential election, winning 2.21% of the vote. He also ran for Maribor mayor from detention last month, securing 1.43% of the vote.
All our stories on Andrej Šiško can be found here
STA, 3 November 2018 - Andrej Šiško, the leader of a self-proclaimed local para-military formation, will remain in custody after the Supreme Court upheld the argument of lower courts that he represents a danger to the constitutional order.
"There are reasonable grounds to believe that the suspect formed a para-military unit and called for the formation of other militias across Slovenia that would, when the time is right, bring down the highest authorities of the state," the Supreme Court.
The decision, announced on Friday, comes in response to an appeal by the defence, which argued that Šiško's conduct did not amount to instigation to the subversion of the constitutional order, the crime Šiško is suspected of.
Save for a brief intermission, Šiško has been in detention since early September, a week after video surfaced of him lining up several dozen men, some armed, wearing balaclavas and conducting what appeared to be basic military training.
Šiško, a former ultras who served prison for attempted murder, has argued that this was a provocation meant to disclose how Slovenian media work, but at the same time he called for the establishment of other such militias around the country.
The Supreme Court said the suspect's conduct, from the utterance of a threat against then Prime Minister Miro Cerar in January 2017 to the formation of the para-military unit, was sufficient at this point in proceedings to warrant his detention.
In making the decision, the court went against the argument of the prosecution, which held that whether Šiško should be remanded in detention should be re-examined by lower courts.
The prosecution's 27 September opinion caused uproar. It was penned by Supreme State Prosecutor Barbara Brezigar, who has for years been close to the opposition Democrats (SDS) and once ran for president with their support; one of Šiško's co-defendants was a member of the SDS's youth wing.
While Šiško is in detention, the investigation continues. Darko Simonič, the head of the Maribor branch of the State Prosecution, told the STA earlier this week that additional witnesses would be interviewed next week.
Šiško has been active in politics for years and ran in last year's presidential election. This year he is one of 18 candidates for mayor of Maribor.
An article on the website European Eye on Radicalization, written by Matteo Pugliese, does a good job of putting in context the recent sight of Andrej Šiško and his armed militia, as reported here last month, whose Štarjerska Guard identified themselves with the idea of a “Greater Slovenia”, as seen in the 19th century map by Peter Kozler shown below.
STA, 12 September 2018 - Andrej Šiško, the self-styled leader of a local militia, was brought into custody again on Wednesday morning after a panel of judges reversed the investigating magistrate's decision to let him walk free. Šiško's lawyer Viktor Osim told the STA he would appeal.
STA, 10 September 2018 - After an investigating judge ordered the releasee of the self-styled militia leader Andrej Šiško last night having found there was no risk of re-offence, the decision will now be re-examined by a judging panel of the Maribor District Court. The panel needs to decide with 48 hours.
STA, 6 September 2018 - Police have arrested two persons on suspicion of incitement to violent change of constitutional order, a move that comes days after failed presidential candidate Andrej Šiško revealed he had put together a local militia having declared an independent land in Štajerska.