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Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Thompson: yesterday the ban on the concert finally fell, the judgment of the European Court is coming

By: Janja Strah

The Administrative Court has finally confirmed that Cerar’s government has illegally banned Marko Perković Thompson’s concert. Slovenia’s conviction at the European Court of Human Rights is also inevitable.

The Administrative Court rejected the lawsuit of the State Attorney’s Office against the decision of the Ministry of the Interior, by which the Ministry of the Interior confirmed that the Maribor Administrative Unit had illegally banned the concert of the Croatian musician Thompson twice. With this, the decision of the Ministry of the Interior became final and legally binding.

The proceedings have been dragging on for four years, and both the Supreme Court and the Administrative Court have already ruled that the authorities acted illegally and violated the rights of concert organiser Milan Trol. In May 2017, the Maribor Administrative Unit, then headed by the later Minister Ksenija Klampfer, banned the concert of Marko Perković Thompson two days before the event at the suggestion of the Maribor police. Trol appealed to the Ministry of the Interior, which did not want to make a decision before the day of the event, but only after it. The Ministry of the Interior confirmed the ban. The ban was supported by many politicians, including the then Prime Minister Miro Cerar, Maribor Mayor Andrej Fištravec, and the President of the National Assembly Milan Brglez. Trol disputed the ban in the Administrative Court the same day.

Two years later, the Administrative Court ruled that the authorities had illegally banned the concert and instructed the administrative authorities to reconsider. Contrary to these instructions, the head of the Maribor Administrative Unit, Srečko Đurov, banned the concert again in the summer of 2020. In the decision, he argued that fascism was evil, but did not present any evidence linking Thompson to fascism or anything illegal in the last ten years. In accordance with the judgment of the Administrative Court, the Ministry of the Interior lifted the ban. The state attorney’s office disputed the decision in the Administrative Court, which dismissed the lawsuit this week.

The Administrative Court upheld the concert organiser twice

In its first judgment, the Administrative Court stated that the authorities could ban a concert only if the police and the Administrative Unit proved that the organiser intended to organise the event in order to call for committing criminal offenses or organising them. The police and the administrative unit should also show which of the 28 foreign buyers can be accused of the purpose of committing criminal offenses, on the basis of which the assessment is based that the applicant will not have control over the people to whom tickets have been sold. In the further proceedings, it turned out that the police and the administrative unit could not prove all this.

It also turned out that the police had no evidence to claim that foreign countries banned Thompson’s concerts. All allegations about the bans abroad turned out to be untrue, or they were just cancellations of rental agreements for the halls and not bans by the authorities. The proceedings also revealed that Thompson had not violated government instructions or used Ustasha iconography in recent years. All allegations by the police and the administrative unit proved to be unfounded. No evidence was submitted for the allegations. In a decision that was delivered to the parties today, the Administrative Court wrote that it could not be sued “by a hypothetical discussion of a possible future”.

Toplak: Slovenia will be sentenced at the ECHR

Trol was represented by Maribor lawyer Igor Marinšek. In four years, they have been before the Administrative, Supreme, and Constitutional Courts, and have also filed two appeals with the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). In his constitutional complaint, Trol maintained several violations, including that the Administrative Court did not hold a public hearing and allowed him to question Ksenija Klampfer and other witnesses, even though he requested a witness interrogation. The constitutional appeal was rejected by a three-member senate consisting of Rok Čeferin, Špelca Mežnar, and Matej Accetto with a single sentence of explanation – that the matter of Thompson’ concert does not raise an important legal issue.

We asked dr. Jurij Toplak, the most successful writer of constitutional complaints in Slovenia about possibilities of Trol before the ECHR. “Slovenia will be convicted at the ECHR because the Administrative Court did not hold the public hearing requested by Mr. Trol. The ECHR has already convicted Slovenia of this violation in the cases of the Peace Institute, Pro Plus, and Cimperšek against Slovenia. These are repeated violations, so-called “repetitive cases”, where the ECHR issues short decisions and punishes the state. The Administrative Chamber of the Constitutional Court, composed of Judges dr. Čeferin, dr. Mežnar, and dr. Accetto could have prevented these condemnations of Slovenia, but they did not. I do not understand why they do not recognise the violations,” says Toplak, who is a professor at Alma Mater Europaea and the Faculty of Law in Maribor, as well as a visiting professor at the Fordham Faculty of Law in New York.

Due to the repeated violation of the failure to hold public hearings at the Administrative Court, headed by Jasna Šegan, proceedings have been pending against Slovenia at the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe for two years. Toplak therefore called for the removal or resignation of the President of the Administrative Court two years ago. “Public hearings have been the cornerstone of a fair trial in a democratic world for centuries. The whole of Europe knows this, only the Slovenian administrative court does not,” he said at the time.

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