Former UDBA members and tycoons are deliberately destroying supporters of the Slovenian spring with trials

Foto: STA

In 2007, a commission in Janša’s government known as Šturm’s commission uncovered numerous controversial operations at the Slovenian Intelligence and Security Agency (SOVA). Šturm’s commission uncovered that between June 2004 and July 2005 SOVA had funnelled half of its annual appropriations from a special fund to the company Webs, which had been established in 2004, and that the funds for its establishment and operation had been forwarded without authorisation but with the knowledge of then Director of SOVA Iztok Podbregar. Bojan Bratuša, formerly one of the leaders at SOVA, had been the Director of Webs at the time.

Because of the reported irregularities, criminal proceedings were instigated against Iztok Podbregar and Bojan Bratuša, but the Local Court in Ljubljana issued a judgement of refusal after the district state prosecutor Matej Peterca had abandoned the prosecution without giving any reasons in May 2013. In 2014, the proceedings for the payment of compensation amounting to around €61,000, which had been initiated against the above-mentioned persons through the Attorney General’s Office, were stopped as well. Since October of last year, Iztok Podbregar has been the Dean of the Faculty of Organizational Sciences in Kranj, which operates under the auspices of the University of Maribor.

Podbregar lost
The former Slovenian Democratic Party (SDS) member of the National Assembly Zvone Černač has become involved in judicial proceedings with Iztok Podbregar. During the mandate of Pahor’s government, Černač presided over the Slovenian Commission for Supervision of the Security and Intelligence Services (KNOVS) as an opposition member of the National Assembly of Slovenia. In its annual report in 2010, the above-mentioned commission also addressed the irregularities which had happened at SOVA when Iztok Podbregar had been the director, which is emphasised above. At that time, Černač exposed the controversial operations established by Šturm’s commission and emphasised that under Podgrebar’s leadership SOVA had acted like the former secret political police. Afterwards, Podgrebar announced a claim for damages against Černač, claiming that the latter had tarnished his reputation. But Podbregar failed since the claim was later dismissed. It is clear from the judgement that Černač had not act unlawfully in any way. Podbregar appealed against the judgement, but the Higher Court in Koper affirmed the decision of the lower court in December 2015.

Bojan Bratuša’s lawsuit
About a year after Iztok Podbregar, in January 2011, Bojan Bratuša, who had been employed at SOVA with a forged certificate, as established by Šturm’s commission, also brought an action against the former member of the National Assembly of Slovenia Zvone Černač. In order to avoid further embarrassment because of the Webs affair, he and Podbregar signed a mutual termination of employment.

But the greatest absurdity is that Bratuša brought action against Černač because of an internet post on the website of the Delo newspaper which is dated a month after the KNOVS meeting, i.e. 16 August 2010. The article titled ‘Kdo vse je na liniji’ (Who else is on the line) partly reported on the KNOVS meeting of 15 July 2010. Zvone Černač, who was president of KNOVS at the time, had convened the above-mentioned meeting at the request of the Zares party members of the National Assembly Franci Kek and Tadej Slapnik due to the alleged illegal eavesdropping on and following of then Director of the Slovenian Intellectual Property Office Jurij Žurej, i.e. the ‘Čista nota’ (Clean note) affair. In the request for convening the meeting, the above mentioned Zares members of the National Assembly accused Bojan Bratuša of illegal following and eavesdropping. ‘He is a former staff member of SOVA and might still be associated with them,’ wrote Kek and Slapnik.

Before 15 July 2010, i.e. before the KNOVS meeting, all members of the Slovenian media wrote extensively about Bojan Bratuša, who had left SOVA because of a forged certificate, about Webs, and about other related matters, including Bratuša’s illegal eavesdropping on and following of Žurej. But this did not bother Bojan Bratuša and did not infringe his rights to protection of his personality, i.e. his honour and good reputation. Notwithstanding the fact that Černač wished to protect both SOVA and Bratuša, and that it was the then Zares members of the National Assembly Franci Kek and Tadej Slapnik who talked about him, Bratuša failed to sue either of them.

But Bratuša did sue Černač and initially demanded €21,000 in compensation as well as statutory default interest. At first, the District Court in Koper dismissed Bratuša’s claim in its entirety, but Bratuša appealed. The Higher Court in Koper then returned the same lawsuit for adjudication to the same district court judge Tatjana Pavlovec, who on the basis of identical evidence wrote a judgement that was diametrically opposed to the one she had written initially and ruled that Zvone Černač was liable to pay Bojan Bratuša a compensation equal to €5,000 along with statutory default interest. Černač appealed, but the Higher Court in Koper dismissed his appeal and affirmed the judgement of the District Court.

Herman Rigelnik’s lawsuit
Černač later became involved in legal proceedings because he had said a few words about the takeovers of the tycoon Herman Rigelnik at a National Assembly meeting over three years ago (2013) during an interpellation of then Minister of Finance Uroš Čufer. At that time, Černač had said that it is the owners who should take care of their banks, instead of filling their pockets while citizens foot the bill. Černač had been referring to the Factor bank. The Local Court in Ljubljana dismissed Rigelnik’s claim in its entirety, but he appealed.

Petra Janša