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Sunday, December 4, 2022

Slovenia’s judicial disgrace also echoes abroad – apparently Article 133 of the infamous Bavcon legislation is still alive

By: Tanja Brkič / Nova 24TV

“Biščak was sentenced to prison for publishing a satirical article about illegal immigration. There have always been people in history who persecuted dissenters and wanted to silence them, but there have also been people in history who resisted this and defended freedom of expression. Now we have a historic duty to fight back,” a journalist from the Spanish newspaper El Correo de Espana wrote on Twitter. Disgust at the repressiveness of the Slovenian judiciary also echoed in international waters.

The repressiveness of the Slovenian judiciary is gaining international resonance. They want to imprison the former editor-in-chief of Demokracija Jože Biščak because of the caricature, they want to imprison former prime minister Janez Janša because of a post on Twitter. Article 133 of the Criminal Code of the SFRY is still very much alive in our country in the spirit of court decisions. “The interpretation of the legislation in the sense that anyone who offends someone can even receive a prison sentence is an extremely dangerous practice that belongs to some other time,” said lawyer Mitja Iršič.

“This rare inquisition procedure took place in the EU member state, the Republic of Slovenia. It is obvious that the violation of freedom of expression and the violation of impartial investigative journalism have become the two main pillars of the Slovenian government and the court system, while at the same time serious attempts are being made to introduce censorship that even the North Korean regime would envy,” Peter Tase wrote in the article entitled “The End of Free Speech for Slovenia” for Eurasia Review, an independent magazine that offers analysts and experts a platform to disseminate content on a wide range of topics that are often overlooked or underrepresented in Western-dominated media.

We remind you that the hearing in the case of Škorc’s gloss was completed recently at the District Court in Ljubljana. The former editor-in-chief of Demokracija and the former external collaborator of the magazine Aleksander Škorc were sentenced to a suspended sentence in the first instance because of a satirical article. An appeal has been announced, so the verdict is not yet legally binding. At the same time, Biščak in his closing speech highlighted key issues that hint at an ideologically motivated trial and emphasised that he cannot believe that something like this can happen in democratic Slovenia.

Communism intended, wanted, and tried to rule the people absolutely, including their minds and souls. To this end, all options were used, in particular the control of culture, with a special role played by the Verbal Tort Act, which defended freedom of speech and opinion under the threat of imprisonment. That law was not only a paradigm of a trapped spirit, but also of a trapped man – the Yugoslav man.

Astonishment and disgust at the court’s decision was also sparked by the aforementioned case in international waters, among other things, Alvaro Penas, a Spanish journalist for the newspaper El Correo de Espana, will speak with Biščak about it, who wrote on Twitter: “Tomorrow in @CorreodeSpain is my interview with @JozeBiscak, former editor and head of @Democracija_ENG and president of the Association of Patriotic Journalists of Slovenia. Biščak was sentenced to prison for publishing a satirical article about illegal immigration. There have always been people in history who persecuted dissenters and wanted to silence them, but there have also been people in history who resisted this and defended freedom of expression. We now have a historic duty to fight back.”

Freedom of speech in Slovenia is becoming just a letter on paper, because otherwise it is difficult to interpret the decision of the Regional Court in Ljubljana in connection with the case of Škorc’s gloss. Aleksandar Škorc’s satirical entry in December 2020, entitled Presežki 5, was a gloss that expressed the government’s helplessness in managing illegal migration in a teasing and satirical way, adding that if the government will not be able to manage it, the God will, who will not stop only with illegal migrants, but will deal with all bad people on Earth, regardless of race. Judge Primož Štancar recognised this as an insult to human dignity, even though it was satire. According to him, a crime was committed under Article 297 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Slovenia, but the question arises whether this is just a pretext for maintaining Article 133 of the Criminal Code of the SFRY, which seems to be still very much alive in the spirit of judicial decisions.

Slovenian lawyer and political commentator Mitja Iršič also commented on the matter, saying that “Freedom of speech and expression is the foundation of our civilisation. Any limitation of this freedom makes sense only within the framework of the basic task of the state, i.e., in the function of ensuring security, which in our country is covered in Article 297 of the Criminal Code and was purposefully limited by the legislator to very extreme cases where the safety of citizens is defacto and dejure threatened. Unfortunately, our courts, as they like to do, took the legislation very creatively, in the spirit of Article 133 of the Criminal Code of the SFRY, which regulated verbal delicts. Interpreting the legislation in the sense that anyone who offends someone can even receive a prison sentence is an extremely dangerous practice that belongs to some other time.”

Before the court’s decision, which Biščak has to face today, he warned about this years ago: “On this day 39 years ago, the dictator died. Today, thank God, there are no sirens and no need to stand still. For all those who think that life with Tito was great, I am attaching an article on verbal delict – the infamous Article 133 of the Criminal Code of the SFRY or the ‘Tito Article’.

Such legal practice also shows the basic drawback of any limitation of freedom of expression – namely, in the end, we always wonder who the arbiter will be who will decide what, for example, is hate speech and what not. In our country it is indoctrinated leftists, in Russia it is Vladmir Putin, FSB, GRU, and Roskomnadzor. Neither is good, as it grants the state a virtually unlimited range of powers with which they can subjugate and control communications between citizens. Freedom of expression is so important for the same reason as the principle of dividing power into three parts that do not trust each other – we must never believe in the benevolence of power – neither executive, nor judicial, nor legislative,” concluded Iršič.

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