Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Legacy of Communism in Slovenia: Spit in the Face of Rule of Law

It might sound ridiculous or even incomprehensible to talk again about the transition with all of its counters and discounters in Slovenia, but today's news coming from the Office of Slovenian President has collapsed the last walls of decency. According to the official statement from the Presidential Office Slovenian public was told that the President granted clemency to certain D.K. Mr. D.K. was the head of the HIT Casino Enterprise who was after 13 years long criminal procedure eventually found guilty and sentenced to prison for the abuse of his company position in order to acquire contrary to the law for himself or for the 3rd person large financial benefits.

However, Mr. D.K. managed to evade the prison service for a long time by putting forth various excuses, above all health reasons. Finally, he was put into jail, where he remained for a couple of weeks, when suddenly there were media reports on his secret disappearance. He was again transfarred from the prison to the hospital care and today, at the end of the day, Slovenian public learned that by the act of mercy of the President he will not face the prison at all unless he commits another crime in the next five years.

The conviction of Mr. D.K. was one of the very few successfully prosecuted so called transitional crimes. The majority of the crimes related to privatization abuses and other illegal means of profting from the ex-social property were either procedurally precluded because of the passage of time allowed for a prosecution or were simply lost in the "judicial mills" of the Slovenian court system. When this kind of crime - the name of the criminal being a secondary thing - receives amnesty by the discretionary act of mercy by the President of the State, this sends an important symbolical message about the Slovenian version of the principle of rule of law.

Once interpreted in this context, Slovenian social reality is far from being established on the equality before the law, transparency, certainty without arbitrariness, etc. It seems that Presidential discretionary act can be best understood as approving the transition with all its malversations and preventing even one and only role-model case to be established. Now, there is no room for chatarsis. Transition is rubber-stamped and approved, we the small people - in Gogolj's terms - can be happy to live our humble life further and away from the high politics.

This was an act that desires condemnation - it is fundamentally injust and it strikes in the face of all of us who believe in rule of law, equality within and before the law and in the minimal fairness of the state and its institutions.

ps. At the time of this being written, the outcome of this case is still not entirely clear. The Slovenian Ministry of Justice has namely issued an official statement by which it is raising serious doubts whether the promulgation of clemency, i.e. its holding, was actually done according to the law. Therefore, the epilogue follows.


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