Slovenia: Jansha accused the court of bias

The Slovenian Association of Judges has protested after Prime Minister Janez Jansha indicted the court, which ordered him to pay damages in a defamation lawsuit filed by the opposition Social Democrats (SD) over political bias.

The Velenja Local Court earlier ordered Prime Minister Janez Jansha to pay 10,000 euros in damages and apologize to the Social Democratic (SD) opposition for claiming the party operated from a “stolen Jewish villa”. The judgment, in which the court fully upheld the party’s claim for damages, is not yet final.

The ruling, which was announced by the party on Wednesday, comes in response to a lawsuit filed in early July by the SD, which argued that Jansha “deliberately propagated a malicious lie” about the ownership of the villa in Ljubljana that houses the headquarters of party, though it may be proved to you that he knew ownership was not in dispute.

According to SD, the court has now issued a ruling saying Jansha must post within 15 days an apology on Twitter for “his untrue Twitter posts about SD operating from a stolen Jewish villa in Levstikova 15, Ljubljana”.

In addition to paying damages, Jansha has been ordered to cover court costs of just over 800 euros.

“The villa has not been stolen and SD has acquired its ownership legally,” the party said in a press release.

They say the court issued a verdict because Jansha did not receive the mail from the court and consequently did not respond to the lawsuit within 30 days. Jansha still has 30 days to appeal the decision.

The court ruled that while political parties should show a higher degree of tolerance for criticism, Jansha crossed the line of respect for the rights of others by writing knowingly and deliberately insulting untrue allegations.

Jansha commented on the verdict for STA suggesting that the court was biased. “This is the practice of the Velenja court, which is filled with a line of friendship of members or supporters of the Social Democrats and gives judgments without hearings and without offering the defense option,” he wrote.

“To make it a complete farce, the court in this particular case adjudicated a lawsuit filed by the Social Democrats. “This is something that even the military courts in the former Yugoslavia have not done.”

SD leader and secretary general Dejan Levanič noted the importance of the trial in holding Jan Jana accountable for untrue allegations.

“The court found that Jansha knew about the fraudulent content of his allegations, but would nevertheless post them with malicious intent. “By failing to obtain court documents, Jansha demonstrates his contempt for the state and the rule of law,” Levanič wrote.

He announced that the party will donate the entire amount received as compensation for charity.

The claims made by Jansha had a strong effect as the European Jewish Association subsequently called on the party to correct a historical injustice and return the villa to the Slovenian Jewish community. He claimed that the property had been sold “under dubious conditions, nationalized and then used by high-level communist party organizations during the Yugoslav era”.

However, SD said the villas had been state-owned at the time before the party took ownership in exchange for another building the party had previously owned.

The villa was once owned by Jewish merchant Felix Moskovic, who was killed in a German concentration camp. A woman who bought it from a family heir sold it to the state in 1961.

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