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ponedeljek, 17 januarja, 2022

An Open Letter by Historian Jože Dežman: “Branko Masleša Is Trying to Preserve the Heritage of the Legal Titoism in a State, Governed by the Rule of Law”

By: Sara Rančigaj / Nova24TV

In an open letter, historian and chairman of the government Commission on Concealed Mass Graves in Slovenia, Jože Dežman, wonders whether Slovenian lawyers will ever be able to condemn the “Titoist lawlessness” that was responsible for many crimes in military courts. Dežman believes that the murderous achievements of the courts are not the greatest crimes of the “legal bludgeons,” but that the biggest crime is them not being able to condemn the then-lawlessness of Titoism, and he highlighted the Supreme Court judge Branko Masleša as an example. “Branko Masleša is a bludgeon because he is trying to preserve the legacy of legal Stalinism and Titoism in a democratic state, governed by the rule of law,” Dežman wrote.

The Siol web portal has published an open letter, written by historian and chairman of the government Commission on Concealed Mass Graves, Jože Dežman, on Branko Masleša, who still has not answered the questions about the murders. Dežman described Masleša as a “bludgeon.” “Branko Masleša is a bludgeon because he is trying to preserve the legacy of legal Stalinism and Titoism in a democratic state, governed by the rule of law,” he wrote. Dežman also believes that Masleša showed his Siberian “constitution” in an interview on the news show Dnevnik on the 11th of December. “I call it Siberian because it has strong Stalinist undertones.”

Dežman then recalled the events on the border with Italy, where Ante Žižek was shot dead, as he intended to flee to Italy and did not stop despite calls to do so. As Masleša explained to the Delo newspaper, he was a judge on duty at the border with Italy at the time, but he said that he only later found out that the man who had been shot was from Bosnian Krajina. Dežman pointed out that such events led to the condemnation of officials on the Berlin Wall in the German Democratic Republic. And the verdict was upheld in the European Court. “So why can’t Masleša answer the fundamental question he has already been asked before: are the murders of civilians on the Iron Curtain committed by the Yugoslav armed forces a crime? Let me be a little more specific: are these crimes against humanity?” he wondered.

“On the show Dnevnik, Masleša even defended the Kočevje trial from October 1943, in which the Stalinist judicial bludgeons first went after Slovenians. Of the 21 accused, 16 were sentenced to death and executed,” Dežman said, adding that Masleša is accusing the then-Supreme Court judge, who is not a Constitutional Court judge, Marko Šorli, of refusing to sign a confirmation of the Kočevje trial. Namely, Šorli and Barbara Zobec did not agree with the decision of the Supreme Court Senate. The decision in this case is currently being debated in the Constitutional Court. “However, the issue is not just the judge bludgeons from the Kočevje trial and Masleša; instead, it is about the development of Slovenia’s attitude towards the totalitarian judiciary.”

Slovenian lawyers participated in the implementation of the “Stalinist revolution”
Dežman believes that Slovenian lawyers, just like the National Socialists under Hitler, participated en masse in the implementation of the Stalinist revolution or at least began serving the regime, which is rightfully described as lawless, as Roman Ferjančič and Lovro Šturm wrote in their book Lawlessness (Brezpravje in Slovenian). “Thousands of annulled judgments of Tito’s judicial bludgeons prove that the assessment lawlessness is true. However, we have little research on the prosecutors, judges, and others responsible for such trials,” he pointed out.

Dežman then focused on the condemnation of the Kočevje trial, when the Supreme Court judges Marko Šorli and Barbara Zobec were outvoted by the other Supreme Court judges, “who wanted to defend the Stalinist justice.” Masleša is accusing Šorli of not wanting to sign the verdict, but he does not say whether the manoeuvres of the verdict being signed by a third party were actually in accordance with the rules. “But the lawyers at the Constitutional Court, who are now deciding on the Habič case, will also have to take into account the numerous opinions of experts who see the Kočevje process as the first Slovenian Stalinist process,” Dežman pointed out.

Dežman also believes that the murderous achievements of the courts are not the greatest crimes of the legal bludgeons, but that the biggest crime is them not being able to condemn the then-lawlessness of Titoism. Due to this, Slovenian lawyers and expert groups also carry a great part of the responsibility for these crimes. “Only a rare few, led by Lovro Šturm and his colleagues, have criticised Tito’s lawlessness. Important questions have been asked by historians and other researchers, especially regarding the tradition started by The Dark Side of the Moon (Slovenian book on the history of totalitarianism in Slovenia). And the process will continue in the same direction as the German one,” he added.

It will be difficult to count all the victims of war trials
Dežman also believes that it will first be necessary to count the victims of the war trials, as the lists of convicted persons do not include all persons who have been convicted before a military court. “The process of counting the victims also includes finding a list of all prosecutors and judges who have demanded and imposed the death penalty. As well as other punishments that have been annulled today as unfair convictions,” he added.

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