By: Sara Bertoncelj / Nova24tv
Minister of Justice Marjan Dikaučič broke the silence about the Masleša affair and for Siol or Planet said that he is obtaining information and wants the doubts to be clarified as soon as possible. Of course, we have been wanting this for quite some time. Journalist Mirko Mayer believes that the case will escalate soon after the holidays, but given the Minister’s scanty words, it is difficult to predict anything. Dejan Kaloh also spoke, asking the Minister himself through a parliamentary question whether the judiciary would publish all relevant documents regarding the appointment of Branko Masleša to the judicial mandate. “It seems to be moving. The judiciary must be 100% transparent, especially because it judges on behalf of the people,” he said.
“The Ministry of Justice, within its competences, also obtains information from judicial stakeholders. But of course, I want all these allegations to be clarified as soon as possible in accordance with the principle of transparency in the administration of justice,” Minister of Justice Marjan Dikaučič explained the events surrounding the diploma of the Supreme Judge Branko Masleša for Siol – the Minister has now come forward for the first time, although journalists have been trying to answer questions about the judge’s education, and even more so about the bar exam, for about three weeks now. “According to your press question, we would like to inform you that this is a former higher education degree obtained at a university in the then common state of SFRY. In Slovenia, this type of education is comparable in level of education to the level of education provided by master’s study programmes, which are at the Slovenian Qualifications Framework (SQF) at level 8, at the European Qualifications Framework (EQF) at level 7 and represent the second cycle in higher education of European Qualifications Framework (QF-EHEA),” the Ministry of Education announced regarding Masleša’s diploma.
Some time ago, we sent a question to the Ministry of Justice, based on what and when or where the bar exam of Supreme Judge Branko Masleša was recognised – if at all. Namely, the Ministry itself wrote in 2019 that there is no legal basis in Slovenian regulations for the recognition in the Republic of Slovenia of the state legal examination passed in another country. The Ministry replied that until the entry into force of the State Law Examination Act, the third paragraph of Article 105 of the Judicial Service Act stipulated that a person who has passed a judicial examination or other examination which is, by law, equivalent to a bar examination, is considered to meet the condition referred to in point 5 of the first paragraph of Article 8 of this Act. When the State Law Examination Act came into force in 1994, the transitional provision stipulates: “With the examination in accordance with the provisions of this Act, the bar examination and the examinations with it are equated according to the regulations in force so far.” They also wrote that the documentation on how the fulfilment of the conditions under the ZSS was verified in the specific case of appointment to a permanent mandate in 1994, in accordance with the provisions of the then valid ZSS, was sent to the Judicial Council. Of course, we asked if we could get it.
The Judicial Council announced the following on this topic: In accordance with your request, we have reviewed the archives and based on the collected documentation we explain that in the candidacy procedure for election to the position of senior judge at the High Court in Koper in 1994 in accordance with the second paragraph of Article 104 of the then valid Judicial Service Act (ZSS) at the request of the Judicial Council of July 19th, 1994, obtained an assessment of judicial work for Judge Branko Masleša, prepared on August 29th, 1994, by the Personnel Council of the Supreme Court. Then, as can be seen from the minutes, at the 4th session on September 22nd, 1994, the Judicial Council proposed to the National Assembly the candidate Branko Masleša for election to the position of senior judge at the High Court in Koper. Pursuant to the provisions of Articles 20 and 23 of the then valid ZSS, the Judicial Council then issued a decision of November 22nd, 1994, in which it found that Branko Masleša had been elected to the position of senior judge at the High Court on October 18th, 1994, in Koper and that on November 3rd, 1994, he was sworn in before the President of the National Assembly and on that day began his judicial service, and was placed in the appropriate salary grade. The documentation related to the verification of compliance with the conditions under the Judicial Service Act (ZSS) in the procedure of considering Branko Masleša’s candidacy in the previously described procedure, which you are asking about, is not in the archives of the Judicial Council and cannot be provided. The criterion of materialised form, which is determined by the first paragraph of Article 4 of the Access to Public Information Act (ZDIJZ), regarding the transmission of the desired information is therefore not met.
Regarding Masleša, there are quite a few key questions – for example, whether the bar exam passed in BiH in 1980, when Masleša was appointed a judge of the Basic Court in Koper, was sufficient for appointment to this position under Slovenian law at the time. The answer to this must be found in the Act on Traineeships, Professional Examinations and the Improvement of the Professional Education of Workers in Administration and Justice (Official Gazette of the Socialist Republic of Slovenia, No. 8/80). The ZRS also refers to this law. The decisions of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Slovenia on this topic are also important. Namely, the Supreme Court of the Republic of Slovenia explained the concept of the bar exam with them. Masleša therefore does not seem to meet the conditions for a judge, as they did not exist in 1980. The “certificate of passing the bar exam” is also controversial, as the identification data of the candidate are missing. Of course, it is also disputable how he supposedly passed the bar exam while serving his military service – namely, he was supposed to do judicial practice in courts, the prosecutor’s office, the attorney’s office. Finally, it is disputable, or at least unusual, that he passed the bar exam in BiH, even though he was serving in the army in Zadar, Croatia at the time. So, are we already closer to answering the question of whether the bar exam from BiH was enough to fill the judicial position in Slovenia?
As we can understand the Traineeships, Professional Examinations and Improvement of Professional Education of Workers in Administration and Justice Act from 1980 and as it is clearly understood and at least indirectly explained by the Supreme Court in decision no. I Up 116/2020: “Since these were republic regulations, only the bar exam passed in accordance with the regulation in force in the Republic of Slovenia, and not in accordance with the regulation of another republic of the former SFRY, is equated with the PDI on the basis of Article 34 of the ZPDI.” It looks more and more like Branko Masleša did not meet the conditions for a judge in the SRS when he was appointed in 1980 – even if his “certificates” were valid and indisputable, it would not be able to help him much in Slovenia. And if his original appointment was illegal, all other appointments derived from it were also illegal – for a permanent term in 1994 and beyond. If the bar exams from BiH are not recognised in our country, all the judgments in which Masleša took part are rebuttable – if ever, now would be the right time for the Supreme Court Judge to withdraw his documents and prove their validity.
Dejan Kaloh asked the Minister of Justice Marjan Dikaučič a parliamentary question regarding the recent and numerous hints about the adequacy of the diploma and bar exam of Supreme Judge Branko Masleša. We are publishing the parliamentary question in full.
Honourable Minister, Marjan Dikaučič,
In recent weeks, there have been numerous hints in the public regarding the adequacy of the diploma and bar exam of Supreme Judge Branko Masleša. Guessing and allusions do not diminish, mainly due to the unresponsiveness of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Slovenia to them. The unresponsiveness of the judiciary to such important public doubts, especially when it comes to the former President of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Slovenia, is worrying and reduces public confidence in the judiciary or indicates the closedness of the judiciary and its distance from people.
To clarify these doubts, I ask the Minister of Justice the following:
- Will the judiciary publish all relevant documents regarding the appointment of Branko Masleša to the judicial mandate, including information regarding the recognition of the bar exam from Bosnia and Herzegovina?
- Why does the judiciary not respond to doubts from the media, when it should be in its best interest to clarify these issues?
- According to the decision of the Judicial Council of December 16th, 2021, on the publication on the Twitter account of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Slovenia of December 6th, 2021, in which the latter assessed this publication as an inappropriate method of communication, does the judiciary intend to change the method of communication, or what action will be taken based on this decision of the Judicial Council?
- Does the Judicial Council intend to consider the adequacy of the diploma and bar exam of Supreme Judge Branko Masleša, regarding that the context of concern for the public reputation of the judiciary in accordance with the first paragraph of Article 2 of the Judicial Council Act (ZSSve) emphasises the importance of the principle of transparency in the functioning of the judiciary?