The Slovenian (left-wing) media mainstream accuses the center-right government of restricting journalistic freedom, attacking journalists and endangering their lives. They inform the international public and organizations about this, although none of this is true, as everyone is guaranteed freedom of expression, and journalists are safe under the government of Janez Janša. The truth is that the only Slovenian journalist who has almost paid for his journalistic mission and work with his life is the conservatively oriented Miro Petek. Because of his investigative journalism, he was attacked and nearly killed twenty years ago (under the rule of the liberal democracy of Janez Drnovšek). This is his story.
On February 28th, 2001, on a cold night when a few inches of snow fell, members of a paid criminal underworld met him in front of a garage in the backyard and attacked him with a baseball bat. They left Petek lying unconscious in a great puddle of blood and he barely survived, he had more than 20 fractures on his head, the attack left permanent health consequences.
As a correspondent for one of the Slovene daily newspapers, Petek was revealing the economic crime of the transitional left and the »red directors« (directors who had already become so under the totalitarian communist regime) after independence. It was a crime of great proportions. He published a series of journalistic articles about a local rich man who became rich in strange circumstances, and in one of his journalistic stories he also revealed in detail the money laundering of one of the richest Slovenes at the time, Janko Zakeršnik, in the state bank Nova KBM. Interestingly, this bank was also the largest owner of the daily in which Petek revealed these criminal stories at the time. After Petek survived the attack, Zakeršnik sued (action for damages) him for all the records he published about him as an entrepreneur. Petek only achieved justice in the Constitutional Court, and all previous courts sentenced him to pay compensation for alleged interference with Zakeršnik’s private life.
Miro Petek was also the recipient of two central Slovenian journalism awards, the Slovenian Journalists’ Association Award and the Jurčič Award. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has conducted its own independent investigation into the Petek case.
The police arrested and imprisoned a group of people who were preparing the murder of Miro Petek, and the case also came to court with an indictment, where the accused were acquitted after a long court procedure and received more than 600 thousand euros in compensation from the state. Petek has thus also became a victim of the complete incompetence of the state, which is unable to provide its citizens with legal and physical security. The trial itself, which was accompanied by many upheavals, was influenced by the then ruling left post-communist political elite, which wanted to protect its people in various ways, that is, those who ordered the murder of the journalist Miro Petek. In the case of Petek, the connection between politics, the judiciary, the Slovene tycoon elite and also the criminal underworld was shown, and a part of Slovene journalists also joined the defense and support of the criminal-economic underworld with their writing.
The Slovenian police, prosecutor’s office and judiciary did not prosecute the people who ordered the attack on Miro Petak, although it was more or less clear from Petak’s media records and later analyzes by other media who was behind the attack; and this was also known to the police and the prosecution. The key to those who ordered the murder was seen by law enforcement in the attackers – but because the court acquitted them, the second phase of resolving this case did not occur. Also, law enforcement did not investigate the case of money laundering in the state bank, which was reported by journalist Petek. With such disregard of the state towards the prosecution of crime, a message was sent that such crimes are not prosecuted and that no one will be convicted. Two decades later, a billion euros of Iranian money of dubious origin was laundered at the state-owned and largest Slovenian bank, Nova ljubljanska banka, also without any consequences for all involved.
After the attack on the then journalist Miro Petek, there were no more physical attacks on journalists in Slovenia. The internationalization of so-called threats due to some post on the social networks of some Slovene journalists only means that those journalists who were and still are mere servants of the left transitional policy and capital of the post-communist tycoon elite are merely seeking international attention and justifying their own journalistic impotence.