Ljubljana related

23 Feb 2019, 11:29 AM

STA, 22 February 2019 - The Archbishop of Ljubljana Stanislav Zore expects that the ongoing meeting of Catholic Church dignitaries on sexual abuse would result in a handbook on how to handle such cases. Talking to the Catholic Radio Ognjišče on Friday, he also encouraged believers to fight against paedophilia in society.

The meeting, which started yesterday and will run until Sunday, will have to result in "concrete steps, a handbook of sorts, to help handle and resolve such cases," he said.

"This does not mean that we have nothing now. We have everything that was expected, what the Holy See demanded. We have guidelines... but things do need to be upgraded."

He said that he had met a victim abused by a priest. "It is very important to show deep respect for these people, their intimacy and privacy."

He added that his knowledge on the topic was expanding, especially about the far reaching effects of such abuse. "The earlier in childhood it happens, the farther it reaches and marks the rest of [the victim's] life."

"These people definitely need empathy, concrete measures to help their treatment, the healing process. Their families also need this."

He said that good priests are also victims, many are distressed because they are being viewed as potential paedophiles. "They also need support and encouragement."

"But on the other hand this is a part of our penance for the sins of individuals within Church."

He also called on believers to "report sexual abuse if they detect it" instead of spreading rumours "that are no use to anybody".

"If names and concrete matters are known, I expect them to be reported... It is also important that believers seek to uproot this evil from society in general. It is a daunting task but this does not mean we should not attempt it."

He also commented on the launch of an initiative fighting for the protection of victims of sexual abuse perpetrated by priests earlier this week by a group of Catholic Church members, including priests.

He said the Church would cooperate with the initiative but also expressed hope that "this group of people will study the relevant legislation and try to understand why such accusations may not produce the outcomes expected" by those who voice the charges.

"These are complex affairs that demand complex treatment, of course in line with canon law and the legislation of the society in which the cases are reported to the court."

14 Jan 2019, 16:30 PM

STA, 14 January 2019 - After a controversial rape case prompted calls for legislative changes in Slovenia, Justice Minister Andreja Katič told TV Slovenija last night she personally favoured defining rape by absence of consent.

The Slovenian penal code defines rape as a perpetrator coercing the victim into sexual intercourse by means of force or serious threats.

Related: Shock Case Shows How Coercion Defines Rape in Slovenia, Not Lack of Consent

Calls for amending the code intensified last week in wake of reports that a man from Koper who raped a drunk woman while she was asleep was given a milder sentence after being charged with criminal coercion rather than rape.

Commenting on the issue on the main news show on TV Slovenija last night, Katič said that for her personally rape was when the victim did not say yes.

She said that while the penal code had seen several amendments in recent years, the Justice Ministry had so far not received any initiative for a change.

However, when the public controversy broke over the Koper rape case, she called a meeting on how to amend the penal code, which will feature various stakeholders, including representatives of the prosecution, judges and NGOs.

She said that the meeting should look into various options, including the possibility of introducing the yes-means-yes principle because the victim might be too frightened or unable to say a clear no.

Escape from Koper jail

Katič also commented on the daring escape from the Koper prison, which a probe found was due to slack security with media reporting that the prison guards who were supposed to exercise surveillance were asleep, thus enabling two detainees to escape in late December.

Katič commented that those responsible were "lulled into the feeling that it's impossible to break from the prison", a feeling to which work at all levels was adjusted.

The minister said that Slovenian prisons were safe, also in comparison with other countries. She believes though that all security mechanisms should be checked and whether everyone was doing their job properly.

"What I have in mind is surveillance cameras and everything else as well as justice police officers and prison management," she said.

However, Katič also said that the prison break showed that additional justice police officers were needed. "We have a meeting with the ministries of justice and public administration on the topic on Tuesday, prompted by the prime minister."

09 Jan 2019, 12:30 PM

STA, 9 January - Questions are being raised in Slovenia about the adequacy of criminal law and judicial discretion after it was reported that a man who raped a drunk woman was charged with criminal coercion rather than rape because the woman, passed out drunk in the man's apartment, did not - and could not - resist.


Dnevnik reported earlier this week that a man from Koper was sentenced to ten months in prison for raping a family friend, who was passed out drunk in the children's room in his apartment.

Testimony suggests the woman woke up after he had already undressed her and started raping her; she tried to resist but he continued to force himself upon her until he completed the deed.

While such an act would be widely expected to result in a rape conviction, the court had a different view and after a series of appeals that went all the way to the Supreme Court, the perpetrator ended up being convicted of a crime that is not even classified as a sex crime.

“Not rape when the perpetrator uses force after the sexual act has already begun”

In the last sentence handed down by the Koper Higher Court after the appeals, the judges held that it was not rape when the perpetrator uses force after the sexual act had already begun, which is why he was convicted of criminal coercion.

In this particular case, this in effect means that the drunk woman sleeping, waking up only after he had already started to rape her, was an attenuating circumstance for the perpetrator.

The crime occurred in 2015 and the bulk of the court procedures took place in 2017.

The case raises a series of questions, most notably about the definition of rape in the Slovenian criminal code.

As Dnevnik emphasises, the law says that rape occurs when a perpetrator coerces the victim into sexual intercourse with force or with serious threats. There is no mention of consent at all.

The current Slovenian criminal code was adopted in 2008 and revised several times since then, most recently in 2016, but the definition of rape has not changed.

Mirjam Kline, the head of the department for juvenile and sex crime at the Ljubljana District State Prosecutor's Office, told Dnevnik the model of coercion in place in Slovenia was outdated.

"It is also unjust because we always focus on the victim: how she resisted to make the perpetrator interpret that as resistance and knew this was against her will," she said.

Matjaž Ambrož, a professor of criminal law at the Ljubljana Faculty of Law, meanwhile pointed out for the Delo newspaper that the Higher Court had argued in the retrial the act constituted rape, but procedural constraints prevented it from re-classifying the crime after the District Court had already reduced it to attack on a feeble person.

Calls for a redefinition of rape

Several media have stressed that in countries such as Germany and Sweden the criminal code has already been changed to focus on consent, which would make sense in Slovenia.

This point was also raised by the Association for Non-Violent Communication, which called for a redefinition of rape.

"We know from our work with victims of sexual violence that rape is often caused without coercion ... in particular between sexual partners, where perpetrators commonly use indirect forms of coercion and threat," they said.

Despite the calls for change, the Justice Ministry said no changes were on the horizon at the moment since focusing on consent would be even more difficult for courts to process given that rapes are typically crimes without witnesses that rest on testimony by the victim and the perpetrator.

But it later said it took comments by the expert public to heart and would host a meeting next week to examine possible changes to the criminal code. "We expect them to present their views on the subject. Based on the conclusions of the meeting, we will be able to provide an estimate about potential shortcomings of the valid legislation and requisite measures," the ministry said.

The response came after public outcry over the case started escalating and several groups took up the cause.

Amnesty International Slovenije, an NGO, publicly called for changes to the criminal code that would be "compatible with international human rights standards, meaning it would be based on the absence of consent."

Institute 8 March, an NGO fighting for equal rights, launched an online petition demanding legislative changes based on consent that garnered over 1,000 signatures within hours, and the Left, an opposition party, initiated a formal motion asking the government to change the legislation according to the "no means no" model of consent.

30 Dec 2018, 12:00 PM

STA, 29 December 2018 - Three years after house searches at three night clubs in Nova Gorica and Sežana, eight defendants were handed down prison sentences for coercing women into prostitution, the newspaper Primorske Novice reported on Saturday.

The sentences, pronounced by the Koper District Court on Friday, range from three and a half years in prison to suspended sentences, but are not final yet.

The court found the defendants guilty of abusing at least ten women, mostly from Ukraine, for prostitution, whereas the prosecution spoke of 70.

Iryna Uršič as ring leader was sentenced to three and a half years in prison, her aides Iryna Ahaponova and Maria Fedotova to two years and to 18 months in prison, respectively.

Uršič and Fedotova had been in detention until March 2017, when the trial started.

The other five defendants, of whom two men, received suspended sentences.

Uršič will also have to pay a fine of 8,850 euros and return almost 81,000 euros in illegal gain, whereas the company Euromega was fined almost 60,000 euros.

The defendants can lodge an appeal against the sentences, with Uršič announcing it even before the verdicts were delivered.

In May 2016, the Specialised Prosecution Office filed changes of human trafficking against 12 persons and two companies, but later changed them to the crime of abuse for the purpose of prostitution, dropping them against two suspects, while one died and one pleaded guilty.

Related: Report Finds Some Progress on Human Trafficking in Slovenia

10 Oct 2018, 14:30 PM

The program aims to reduce the trauma suffered by victims when investigating these crimes. 

26 Sep 2018, 10:20 AM

STA, 25 September 2018 - In the face of a report on sexual abuse in the German Catholic Church, the Slovenian Bishops' Conference told the STA on Tuesday that its task force dealing with such abuses had received 15 reports since it was founded in 2009, three of which were dismissed as ungrounded. 

31 Aug 2018, 18:26 PM

STA, 31 August 2018 - Novo Mesto police have detained a Slovenian couple who was abusing foreign women aged 20 to 46 for prostitution in the areas of Novo Mesto, in the south-east, and Celje, central Slovenia, for at least 14 years. 

10 Aug 2018, 14:37 PM

STA, 10 August 2018 - A higher court has sentenced former priest Franc Klopčič to four years in prison for sexual abuse of an eight-year-old girl, the newspapers Delo and Slovenske Novice reported on Friday. The priest's lawyer announced an appeal to the Supreme Court. 

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