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Slovenia
16.06.06
Urgent Interventions

Slovenia: Not guilty verdict against Ms. Neva Miklavcic-Predan

New information - SVN 001 / 0406 / OBS 040.1
Not guilty verdict / Judicial proceedings / Harassment
Slovenia

June 16, 2006


The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), has received new information and requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Slovenia.

New information:

The Observatory has been informed by a reliable source that the District Court of Ljubljana declared Ms. Neva Miklavcic-Predan, President of the Helsinki Monitor in Slovenia (HMS), not guilty of “slander”.

According to the information received, on May 30, 2006, a not guilty verdict was pronounced in favour of Ms. Neva Miklavcic-Predan, due to the fact that the State prosecutor did not provide any evidence for the defamation charges against her. Indeed, Ms. Miklavcic-Predan was prosecuted for “slander” under articles 171/1, 2, 3 of the Criminal Code (See background information), and was facing from three months up to two years in prison if found guilty.

However, the Prosecutor announced that she was going to lodge an appeal. The judge of the District Court of Ljubljana has now to write an explanation to his oral verdict, which was written down in a short form in the minutes of the last court hearing. The explanation of the verdict is expected on July 7, 2006, and then the Prosecutor has 15 days to file the appeal. But as the Court will be on vacations from July 15 to August 15, 2006, the deadline will actually fall at the end of August.

Moreover, the two other criminal proceedings against Ms. Miklavcic-Predan (See background information) remain pending.

The Observatory thanks all the persons, organisations and institutions, which intervened in favour of Ms. Neva Miklavcic-Predan, and urges the Slovenian authorities to put an end to any kind of harassment against Ms. Miklavcic-Predan, and ensure that her right to a fair and impartial trial be guaranteed in any circumstances.

Background information:

A first trial was originally filed against Ms. Miklavcic-Predan in 2003 by 26 veterans of the Slovene independence war after Ms. Miklavcic-Predan organised, on May 28, 2003, a press conference at the office of the Helsinki Monitor of Slovenia. This conference followed the return of the former Slovenian president, Mr. Milan Kucan, from the Hague (The Netherlands), where he had been invited as a witness before the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY), in the case against Mr. Slobodan Milosevic, former President of Serbia. Among other things, the Vic-Holmec case* and the killing of three soldiers of the Yugoslav National Army came up during the trial, and some documents of the Helsinki Monitor of Slovenia were also discussed. One of them, a press release issued in February 1999, referred to the Vič-Holmec case, and the suspicion that it might represent a war crime. Some of the statements from the press conference were aired by the radio station Radio Student.

One month after this press conference, the Union of Veterans of the Slovene Independence War, a pro-governmental organisation, initiated a judicial action against Ms. Miklavcic for causing traumatic psychological problems for 26 war veterans, as well as with harming the good name and honour of the participants of the Slovenian Independence War. In 2004, the District Prosecutor of Ljubljana filed the indictment without any hearing, according articles 171/1, 2, 3 (Slander) and 178/2 (Special definition of persecution) of the Slovenian Criminal Code, which reached Ms. Neva Miklavcic-Predan in January 2005. Ms. Miklavic has just been acquitted in this trial.

A second trial is a corruption trial against Ms. Miklavcic-Predan indicting her for offering a bribe of 2,000 deutschmark to a State employee of the Ministry of the Interior on May 28, 2002 by phone to obtain citizenship for one Roma. This indictment was filed by the State prosecutor in August 2005 without any hearing, without any proof or witnesses. Ms. Miklavcic-Predan sent the indictment back to the court to be supplemented and indicated that she was intending to defend herself by “civil disobedience” (i.e. Ms. Miklavcic-Predan said that she intended to voluntarily not attend the hearings, not communicate with the Court, not defend herself, not hire an attorney etc.) and that she believed that political officials would be at the origin of the proceedings against her, stating that “an old political lever triggered the indictment”. The last hearing was held on October 4, 2005, when it was adjourned upon Ms. Miklavcic-Predan’s appeal to an indefinite time. Ms. Miklavcic-Predan is facing up to 3 years’ imprisonment.

Finally, a third indictment was filed in October 2005 by the judge of the Local Court of Ljubljana, Mrs. Biserka Matjan Križaj, who felt offended by Ms. Miklavcic-Predan’s appeal and her statement, according to which she was going to defend herself by civil disobedience and that an old political lever triggered the case. The judge is convinced that she had her in mind with “an old political lever” and that she knew that she was a communist party member. Ms. Miklavcic-Predan is facing three months’ imprisonment. No hearing has yet been scheduled.
* The Vič-Holmec case burst out in 1998 and got wide publicity. As the border crossing of Vič is concerned, the policeman Mr. Marko Pogorevc, later Director General of the police, was accused of robbing the duty free shop at Vić after the YPA left the border-crossing. The Holmec affair broke out on January 16, 1998, when a TV shot of the Austrian TV ORF from June 28, 1991 was emitted on Slovenian TV, showing shooting of three soldiers of the Yugoslav People's Army while they were surrendering with a white flag. Both cases got several months of publicity in the media.

Action requested:

Please write to the Slovenian authorities and ask them to:
i. put an end to any kind of harassment against Mrs. Neva Miklavcic-Predan, and ensure that her right to a fair and impartial trial be guaranteed in any circumstances;

ii. conform with the provisions of the Declaration on Humans Rights Defenders, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 9, 1998, in particular article 1, which states that “everyone has the right, individually or in association with others, to promote the protection and realisation of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels”, and article 12.2, which states that “the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration”;

iii. more generally, conform with the provisions of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, and with all other international human rights instruments binding Slovenia.

Addresses:

  • President of the Republic of Slovenia, Dr. Janez Drnovšek, Erjavčeva 17, 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia, Tel.: 00 386 1 478-10-00, Fax: 00 386 1 478-12-00, Email: janez.drnovsek@up-rs.si; gp.uprs@up-rs.si

  • Prime Minister of the Republic of Slovenia, Mr. Janez Janša, Gregorčičeva 20, 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia, Tel.: 00 386 1 478-10-00, Fax: 00 386 1 478-17-21, Email: janez.jansa@gov.si; gp.upv@upr-rs.si

  • Minister of Justice of the Republic of Slovenia, Dr. Lovro Šturm, Župančičeva 3, 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia, Tel.: 00 386 1 369-52-72, Fax: 00 386 1 369-52-76, Email: lovro.sturm@gov.si

  • Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Dimitrij Rupel, Prešernova 25, 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia, Tel.: 00386 1 478-23-73, Fax: 00386 1 478-21-70, Email: dimitrij.rupel@gov.si

  • Supreme State Prosecutor, Barbara Brezigar, Dunajska 22, Ljubljana, Slovenia, Tel.: 00 386 1 434-19-35, Fax: 00 386 1, Email: bbrezigar@dt-rs.si

  • District Court of Ljubljana, president, Tavčarjeva 9, 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia, Tel.: 00 386 1 366-44-44, Fax: 00 386 1 366-45-18, Email: marjan.pogacnik@sodisce.si

  • Local Court of Ljubljana, President Vesna Pavlič Pivk, Miklošičeva 12, 1000 Ljubljana. Slovenia, Tel.: 00 386 1 47 47.701, Fax: 00 386 1 47-47-705, Email: urad.@sodisce.si

  • Higher Court in Ljubljana, President Jernej Potočar, Tavčarjeva 9, 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia, Tel.: 00 386 1 366-40-00, Fax: 00 386 1 366-40-70, Email: jernej.potocar@sodisce.si

  • Supreme Court of the Republic of Slovenia, President Franc Testen, Tavčarjeva 9, Ljubljana, Slovenia, Tel.: 00 386 1 336-42-02, Fax: 00 386 1 336-43-01, Email: urad.vhrs@sodisce.si

  • Constitutional Court of the Republic of Slovenia, President Janez Čebulj, Betthovnova 10, 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia, Tel: 00 386 1 477-64-00, Fax: 00 386 1 251-04-51, Email: info@us-rs.si

  • Ambassador Mr. Aljaz Gosnar, Permanent Mission of Slovenia to the United Nations in Geneva, rue de Lausanne 147, 1202 Geneva, Switzerland, Tel: + 41 22 716 17 80, Fax: + 41 22 738 66 65, Email: mge@mzz-dpk.gov.si

  • Permanent Mission of Slovenia in Brussels, 30 avenue Marnix, 1000 Bruxelles, Belgium, Tel : +32 25124466, Fax : + 32 25120997


***
Geneva-Paris, June 16, 2006

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

The Observatory, a FIDH and OMCT venture, is dedicated to the protection of Human Rights Defenders and aims to offer them concrete support in their time of need.
The Observatory was the winner of the 1998 Human Rights Prize of the French Republic.

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