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Wednesday, July 17, 2024

The judge who already convicted Janez Janša was appointed by the Celje court

By: A. H. (nova24tv.si)

Regarding the conviction of the president of the SDS party, Janez Janša, who in November was fined 8,000 euros due to a lawsuit from former STA director Bojan Veselinovič, an appeal hearing was supposed to take place today at the Celje Higher Court. However, the hearing was cancelled due to a request from the defence to disqualify the president of the senate.

Franci Matoz, the lawyer of the leader of the largest opposition party, Janez Janša, submitted a request before today’s session to disqualify the judge, Barbara Žumer Kunc. This judge was the president of the senate when Janša was sentenced to a conditional prison sentence due to a lawsuit by journalists Eugenija Carl and Mojca Šetinc Pašek. The defence believes that this is the reason she cannot impartially decide in the Veselinovič case.

“Since the president of the panel of senior judges, Branko Aubreht, in his role as president of the Higher Court in Celje, rejected Matoz’s request as unfounded before today’s hearing,” Matoz, according to STA, demanded that Aubreht be removed from the panel. The session was postponed indefinitely for this reason, and the Supreme Court will decide on the potential disqualification.

According to Matoz, the decision of the higher court regarding the request to disqualify judge Žumer Kunc indicated that “Aubreht uncritically assessed the facts presented by the defence and fully followed the judge’s statement”.

Lawyer Gorazd Fišer did not agree with the defence’s request, stating that they had enough time “to submit the request for disqualification before today’s hearing, as the composition of the panel has been known for more than a month”. He believes that the fact that the president of the higher court is also the president of the panel cannot be a reason for disqualification because “the functions are not incompatible”.

Let us recall that Janša was convicted last November by a judicial panel of the Celje court, led by Leonide Jager, for the “criminal act of defamation” based on Veselinovič’s lawsuit over one of Janša’s posts on the social network X. The controversial tweet read: “It is unbelievable for the EU in the 21st century that an accomplice in the murder of a journalist is still leading STA and receives 8,500 euros per month. More than the president of the republic.” With this post, he allegedly insulted the then-director of STA, Veselinovič, accusing him of being complicit in the death of journalist Bojan Meško. “It is evident from the above that Veselinovič used all possible forms of harassment and pressure against me, not choosing any means to achieve his goal, and was willing to do anything to make me ‘voluntarily’ leave the position of chief editor of STA,” Meško wrote, who lost the battle with a severe illness more than a decade ago.

The court stopped the criticism of state media directors

Veselinovič insisted that he was not aware of Meško’s severe illness during his employment and upon termination of his employment contract. The plaintiff demanded that Janša be sentenced to a conditional prison term, which the court did not grant, but it did sentence Janša to a fine of 8,000 euros. In the explanation of the verdict, Judge Jager pointed out that “the role of the prime minister is one of the highest in the country, so he must carefully choose his words, which are influential and believed by people”. They concluded that his statement was not true and that Janša committed the criminal act intentionally, and that he was also aware of the consequences.

“The verdict sends the message that one cannot speak very critically about directors of state and state-funded media, appointed by the left, who then viciously deal with editors and journalists who are not ‘ours’ if these editors and journalists then die,” responded Peter Jančič, editor-in-chief of Spletni časopis, to the decision of the Celje court, while the current editor-in-chief of Planet TV, Uroš Urbanija, emphasised that the truth cannot be silenced. “This is truly a shame. Veselinovič threw the mortally ill Meško out on the street with fabricated reasons, and before that, he subjected him to terrible mobbing. But he belongs to the right group, so his dirty deeds should not even be talked about. However, the truth will not be silenced,” he wrote.

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