Slovenia: The incident on the Slovenian border with Italy was real

Slovenia: The incident on the Slovenian border with Italy was real

The parliamentary Intelligence Oversight Commission discussed on Wednesday a report which shows that the 7 May incident in which two Slovenian soldiers stopped a civilian in the woods near the border with Italy had taken place and had not been orchestrated.

The incident was not orchestrated and the two hikers were not members of the Antifa terrorist organisation as alleged by Prime Minister Janez Janša, commission chair Matjaž Nemec of the opposition SocDems told the press after the commission discussed the report, which is designated as internal, behind closed doors.

The report was compiled by the Defence Ministry’s Intelligence and Security Service (OVS) following doubts whether soldiers had indeed been involved in such an incident and whether the incident had happened at all, and was presented to the commission by OVS director Andrej Osolnik.

Asked whether police officers were patrolling the border together with the two soldiers, Nemec said he could confirm the media reports that only Slovenian Armed Forces (SAF) members had been there upon instruction by the police.

The SAF is helping Slovenian police officers patrol the border to contain illegal migrants, but soldiers have no police powers, so they have to follow the instructions of the police. There have been attempts by the Janša government to temporarily give SAF such powers to enable them to help the police more effectively.

As STA reported, Nemec said the OVS report had been sent to the district state prosecution, which will decide on further steps.

He now expects the Interior, Defence and Foreign ministries as well as the Prime minister to apologize to the two hikers – Daniel Malalan, a member of the Slovenian minority in Italy, and his girlfriend, and to the Slovenian minority daily Primorski Dnevnik, which broke the news about the incident.

Nemec said both hikers, the newspaper, and the opposition MPs who had demanded certain answers had come under fire after the incident from members of the government.

He now expects them to muster the courage to apologise, adding that some media outlets, especially those close to the ruling Democrats (SDS), portrayed Malalan in a negative manner and accused him of being a member of a terrorist organisation.

Nemec pointed a finger especially at Janša his tweets, in which he alleged the incident had been orchestrated by the deep state. He said this had caused great pain not only to Malalan and his girlfriend but to the entire Slovenian minority in Italy.

In his first response, Defence Minister Matej Tonin said the soldier had not pointed a gun at the hiker, had not asked him about his identity and had not arrested him, but had simply been doing his job in line with standard procedure.

“Following the investigation, it is time for the depoliticisation of the case to the benefit of Malalan and the soldier, who is an exceptionally experienced and decorated SAF member,” Tonin tweeted, adding #truth_wins.

On 23 May, Primorski Dnevnik run a story about a 32-year-old Italian-Slovenian citizen with temporary residence in Slovenia who was stopped in early May at gunpoint by a uniformed man in the municipality of Hrpelje – Kozina near the border with Italy. When the man in uniform realised the civilian was not an illegal migrant when he spoke Slovenian, he was let go.

The story was followed by a series of speculations about its authenticity and the identity of the civilian, with Defence Minister Tonin immediately saying it could well be fake news.

The civilian later went public, disclosing his identity in a bid to support his story, and the SAF chief of the general staff announced the incident would be fully investigated./ibna