Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Former Slovenia PM Wins Libel Claim in Patria Case

LJUBLJANA, Slovenia - Former Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Jansa said Dec. 13 he had won damages for libel from Finnish television YLE over a report it made in 2008 implicating him in a bribery case.
Ljubljana's district court ordered YLE and its journalist Magnus Berglund to pay Jansa 15,000 euros ($19,800) in compensation, according to the court's ruling, which Jansa published on his Facebook page.
A former Slovenian police commissioner, Bojan Potocnik, who claimed in an interview with Berglund that Jansa had received bribes from a defense firm, was made to pay him 6,500 euros in damages, it added.
Both YLE and Potocnik will also have to publicly withdraw their claims on Slovenian and Finnish national television, the court decided.
Jansa, who headed Slovenia's government between 2004 and 2008, sued Finnish broadcaster YLE and Berglund in 2008 for libel, demanding 1.5 million euros in compensation for an investigative report broadcast Sept. 1, 2008, weeks ahead of Slovenian parliamentary elections.
In it, Berglund alleged that several high-ranking Slovenian officials, including Jansa, had taken bribes in exchange for a 278 million euro contract to acquire armored vehicles from Finnish defense firm Patria.
The scandal played a major role ahead of the 2008 elections, which resulted in a victory for the center-left Social Democrats over Jansa's Slovenian Democratic Party.
On Dec. 13, the Ljubljana court ruled that the information contained in the YLE report was insufficient to corroborate the bribe allegations and sustained Jansa's libel claims.
Slovenian prosecutors launched a separate trial against Jansa and four others in September 2010 over the same bribery claims, with additional evidence.
Jansa, 52, has been charged with "complicity in the giving or accepting of bribery or bribery promises in exchange for a mediation" that led to a 2006 deal with Patria, Slovenia's biggest defense deal ever.
The opposition leader was favored to return to power in last month's parliamentary election but came second to the new Positive Slovenia party led by Ljubljana's popular millionaire mayor, Zoran Jankovic.

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