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Sunday, July 14, 2024

Suffering that must bear fruit

By: Dr Andreja Valič Zver

Ten years have passed since those hot June days of 2014, when Janez Janša was called to serve his sentence following the so-called indicative judgment. Thick books have already been written about the unfair Patria trial and all the intrigues surrounding it. These somewhat explain the atmosphere of the time and the mistakes and missteps of Slovenia’s rather unsuccessful transition, especially in the field of judiciary. But we have already written about this rotten egg of Slovenian society, and we will write more.

As a prelude to today’s column, let us recall a brief memory of the dark winter days of that year when the news of Virant’s demand for an investigation in the Patria case was resonating, which consequently led to the fall of the then Janša government and the farcical trial, which ended – as already mentioned – with the so-called indicative judgment. The writer Jančar remarked about this “famous” judgment that “…no one, except the famous proverbial Turkish kadija, who both accuses and judges, believes that it is necessary to send someone to prison for two years because of a promise, we do not know what, we do not know where, we do not know when. The judge must … inspire public trust … There are all the indications that this is a political judgment. Besides the indications, there is also direct evidence for this. It is hard to believe that this is possible in a democratic country.”

And it was entirely possible. According to the ruthless logic of the judicial machinery, which remained practically untouched with the support of the deep state, the ridiculous judgment turned into a prison sentence, followed by years of court wrangling, media smearing, and finally disgraceful statute of limitations. Today we know and understand that this was yet another (dirty) attempt to (permanently) get rid of Janez Janša. Especially to younger readers, I would recommend reading the book Case JJ (Primer JJ).

Let us return to the fundamental motive for the creation of today’s column. You, dear readers, would probably agree with the statement that memoirs of individuals are among the historically valuable sources. Of course, any serious historian will also seek other types of sources, compare and analyse them. However, memoirs of individuals remain one of the most sought-after and, in Slovenia, rather missed types of historical sources, especially from the transition period. Therefore, it seems appropriate to share with you some memoir snapshots from June 20th, 2014.

The bright and hot June summer days turned into a nightmare when it became clear that Janša would have to go to prison in Dob. The lump in our throats grew larger as the day approached. The drive to the Janša family’s home, where we were arranged to meet, was tense. Urška was dignified, serious, and pale, aware of the burden approaching her family. Janša was reticent, outwardly calm, and extremely focused. All present felt the weight of the moment, and every word was unnecessary. The drive towards the Styrian highway was unforgettable, as flags and people lined up everywhere. Before the entrance to the highway, the convoy of vehicles led by Janša’s car stopped because it was impossible to proceed. Everyone wanted to shake Janez’s hand and give him additional courage. But time was relentless, and the reality of prison became increasingly heavy. The Dolenjska highway, especially the overpasses, was full of Slovenian flags, encouraging banners, and people who felt Janša’s departure to prison as a grave injustice. At Dob, a huge crowd of Janša’s supporters gathered in the grey afternoon. Together with Janez and Urška, Milan and I stepped among colleagues, friends, supporters. Climbing onto a truck, temporarily placed in one of the yards, the sight of the waving crowd was unforgettable. There were speeches, tears, and a constantly present feeling of injustice that affected not only Janša, his family, and all his companions, but also democracy in Slovenia. Milan, as a long-time companion and friend of Janša, assured in his speech that this story would bear fruit. “We were with you… when everything was good for all of us… And we were with you also when things were tough for all of us: in Roška, in Depala vas, when you were attacked daily due to various affairs… We will do everything to bring you back to freedom as soon as possible, to create a normal civic pressure…” Indeed, the magnificent story of the Committee 2014 happened.

But let me note that, as Dr Štuhec beautifully outlined in his speech, some were hiding and plotting their plans. “Those who are sheep stay at home. They are hidden and do not dare to come into the light, to stand up for Janez Janša and Slovenia. Those who are here cannot be sheep because they risk harsh words from their colleagues at work, they risk being insulted on the street…” This too will need to be honestly addressed.

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