Lawyers of Milko Novič, accused of a murder of the director of the Institute of Chemistry Janko Jamnik, consider it important that the law enforcement authorities, after the otherwise invalid acquittal of Novič, continue the investigation and find the real perpetrator. The President of the Republic, Borut Pahor, was also called upon to advocate for this.
Retired lawyer Jože Hribernik as well as Žiga Podobnik and Monika Poja find it “morally and legally unacceptable for the state to stop looking for the real perpetrator, despite the invalid acquittal.” “There is no doubt that the prosecution has been prosecuting the wrong man for six years, whose advocates have been publicly warning about this all these years. As this is a serious crime, we find it inadmissible for the perpetrators to go unpunished,” they wrote in a letter to Pahor.
According to them it is important to find the real perpetrator because “any concern or doubt about the innocence of the falsely accused Milko Novič should be removed, as the acquittal will never become final due to the statute of limitations,” they wrote.
In doing so, they are critical of prosecutor Blanka Žgajnar, who, in their opinion, had been focusing all her attention from the very beginning “exclusively on proving Novič’s guilt”, and “had persistently rejected all other possibilities and did not want to listen to our initiatives and warnings”. Therefore, they consider it crucial that the prosecutor be deprived of the authority to lead and direct a new investigation.
However, the Specialized State Prosecutor’s Office, which is conducting the proceedings against Novič, believes that there are no reasons to transfer the investigation to another prosecutor, “since the state prosecutor is worthy of their trust in her work”. “Otherwise, both state prosecutions and all state prosecutors are independent in their work and bound by the constitution and laws,” they wrote for STA.
They also expect the defence to hand over information about a possible other perpetrator, if they find any, to the police.
Novič was incriminated that he murdered his former boss Jamnik on December 16th, 2014. In April 2017, the District Court in Ljubljana found Novič guilty. Similarly, the appeal was ruled the same by the senior judges, but the Supreme Court overturned the verdict and ordered a new trial.
In the retrial, the court acquitted Novič, but then the higher court annulled the decision and returned the case for a new trial. In the third trial, on December 21st last year, the court again ruled that Novič was not guilty.
As Podobnik told STA, the court has not yet issued a written judgment. According to previous statements by the defence and the prosecution, the case became statute-barred on December 27th, and since both the prosecution and Jamnik’s wife’s attorney announced an appeal, the verdict will never become final, as the higher court will not be able to decide on the merits. According to Podobnik, the statute of limitations must be established by a court with a special decision or when deciding on appeals.