By: Domen Mezeg / Nova24tv
“The behaviour of the police during Tuesday’s protests was tactically correct, and the measures were proportionate and intensified appropriately when it comes to coercion. The crowd, which was peaceful at first, later split into two – a larger, still peaceful crowd, and a smaller crowd, that systematically and deliberately violated public order,” said security expert Andrej Rupnik, who added that the arrest and transfer of key protest leaders was the right choice. As it is known, the police arrested two well-known initiators of the protests, rapper Zlatan Čordić – Zlatko, and the leader of the party Resni.ca (the Truth), Zoran Stevanović.
“On Tuesday, the police performed the tasks of protecting the highest representatives of foreign countries, and in the area of the centre of Ljubljana, they also protected public law and order at an unreported rally, which began at around three in the afternoon and first took place on Republic Square, where around three thousand people gathered,” the police wrote in a press release in response to Tuesday’s riots and police intervention. Various police units of different police administrations, cavalry, police officers with police dogs, the Special Unit, the Aviation Police unit and the Security and Protection Centre all participated in the protection of the rally. Just before 5 p.m., the participants of the rally in Ljubljana started moving in the direction of Slovenska Street, and even more people joined the protest.
The participants of the rally were repeatedly urged to not endanger traffic safety. Police officers tried to stop them, but because they disobeyed the orders, the rally was disbanded. However, the protesters continued to disobey the orders and continued to seriously and en masse violate public order (among other things, they were throwing various objects at the police officers and police vehicles), and did not disperse, despite the issued orders, so coercive means were used on Slovenska Street, namely the water cannon and tear gas. “Police officers kept urging the participants to disperse, and most of them followed their orders.”
However, some of the protesters then returned to the Republic Square and then started moving towards Tržaška Road and also back towards Celovška Road. They also endangered the safety of railway traffic on the railway overpass, and traffic was then stopped to ensure safety. Around 7.30 p.m., only smaller groups of people who violated public order were left in the area of the centre of Ljubljana, who were throwing various objects at the police officers, among other things. Just before 9 p.m., public order was restored, and the crowds dispersed. Police officers repeatedly used coercive measures against the crowd (water jet, tear gas, foam bullets, cavalry, and police dogs).
Twenty-two people were detained, and police are dealing with several offences of damaging foreign property
“Yesterday, the police arrested three people on suspicion of committing a crime against public order and peace and are still collecting information in these cases.” Twenty-two people were detained for the duration of the rally, in accordance with the Police Tasks and Powers Act. Police officers are also continuing to collect information about the incident in terms of detecting all criminal offences, as they are also dealing with several criminal offences of damaging foreign property. Police service vehicles have also been damaged. We will inform the public about all police measures and detected criminal acts when all notifications will have been collected.
According to the information known so far, two people needed medical attention due to them inhaling lots of tear gas, and six police officers were also injured (these are minor injuries, which they got from the objects that were being thrown at them by the protesters). “The task of providing security services at the event (the EU-Western Balkans Summit) is proceeding according to plan, the police have provided security for the protected persons, and the protected vehicles travelled along the planned routes with minor adjustments.” Director-General of the police, Dr Anton Olaj, also thanked the police officers who participated in the task of providing security for the successful execution of police tasks.
Rupnik: The measures were proportionate; arrests of key leaders were the right choice
We asked Andrej Rupnik, an expert on security issues, for a comment on whether the police used appropriate force at Tuesday’s protests: Here is what he said: “The behaviour of the police during Tuesday’s protests was tactically correct, and the measures were proportionate and intensified appropriately when it comes to coercion. The crowd, which was peaceful at first, later split into two – a larger, still peaceful crowd, and a smaller crowd, that systematically and deliberately violated public order.” If the first group only played the role of supporters and observers, the second group then began to act offensively against the police officers and third parties who happened to be in their way.
In doing so, they violated a number of laws and regulations, and above all, they did not follow the orders of the police officers. Accordingly, the police adjusted their tactical measures. The police officers more or less managed to establish enough physical space between the police force and the violent protesters by using tear gas and the water cannon. If there happened to be more contact between the police cordons and violent protesters, the police would be forced to resort to significantly more dangerous means of coercion, which are all forms of physical force and the use of batons. “In such a confrontation, injuries, which can also be pretty severe, are inevitable on both sides.”
“I also believe that the arrest of key leaders of the riots, who are trying all they can to avoid taking responsibility for the riots and the chaos that they have caused, was the right choice.” Peaceful protests are a right, but the law applies to everyone – equally. The protests must be registered, and the safety of participants and third parties must be ensured. In the cases we are witnessing, it is more than obvious that basic public safety legislation is being violated, and the consequences are also felt by citizens who do not support the protests. There is great direct and indirect economic damage, while the health and safety of humans are also being endangered.