četrtek, 23. november 2017

The Former Head of the Slovenian Communist Secret Police against a Journalist: The Trial Starts on Monday 4 December

Dear journalist colleagues
I would like to invite you to follow the trial against me and my photographer on behalf of the former head of the Slovenian communist secret police Udba. According to the Slovenian Penal Code defamation in the printed media is punishable by fine or by imprisonment up to six months. On Monday 4 December at 8.30 at the Ljubljana district court a trial starts for defamation of the former Slovenian Udba head Janez Zemljarič who felt dishonoured because of articles I wrote in the Reporter weekly magazine in January 2014. In these articles I wrote about the murders of Croatian emigrants abroad in 1970s by killer agents of the Yugoslav secrete police Udba. My story followed the extradition of two Croatian former Udba heads Josip Perković and Zdravko Mustač against whom a trial started in Germany and who later were found guilty and sentenced to a life prison.
The former chief of the Slovenian communist secret police Udba Janez Zemljarič filed a private criminal complaint against me and my photographer for defamation due to three articles in the weekly magazine Reporter. Since I wrote some articles about his role in the Udba murders of Croatians emigrants he felt dishonoured. Mr. Zemljarič has felt also dishonoured because of two published photomontages on the front pages of the magazine, thus he blamed the photographer Primož Lavre for doing this. In fact the photographer has nothing to do with these photomontages, he is not even the author of the published photographs. On the first photomontage there is Mr. Zemljarič shown as a man with a machine gun, there are also photos of the murdered Croatian emigrant Nikica Martinović and his probable murderer, the Udba agent called Hanzi. The first article has the title Call Zemljarič for Murder. On the second photomontage Mr. Zemljarič is standing with his Udba companion Mr. Silvo Gorenc both armed with guns and there is also Mr. Milan Kučan, the former chief of Slovenia’s Communist Party, above them as an angel. The second article has the title An Angel between the Executioners. The third annoying article has the title Face to face with Zemljarič.
In fact there is no valid basis for Zemljarič’s complaint regarding the articles. My articles were written on the basis of a document found by the researcher Roman Leljak in the state archive. According to this document dated 4 February 1975 the chief of the Udba section for hostile emigration Milan Pavlin wrote to the Udba chief Janez Zemljarič that they were planning some concrete actions against extremists as opponents living abroad were marked. Pavlin mentioned two Croatian extremists, one living in the USA who was planning to visit Vienna, and the second who hadn’t been yet chosen but it was up to Hanzi to find one of the extremists he knew very well. Later they would decide whom Hanzi should target. Zemljarič as chief of the Udba approved these actions writing the manuscript: “I agree with the proposals.” There is also his signature under his written text. On the same day when Pavlin wrote to Zemljarič Hanzi got two passports and ammunition for the machine gun. Two weeks later Nikica Martinović was shot dead in his greengrocer in Klagenfurt.
Besides this document in the state archive a document was found which shows that the Croatian emigrants in Carinthia had been observed by Udba since 1962. The document, also signed by Zemljarič, consists of a plan to eliminate an organisation called Bleiburg Honorary Line till May 1975. Martinović was the secretary of this organisation which was planning to organise the great commemoration of the 30th anniversary of the so called Bleiburg slaughter in May 1945. This commemoration would have been held on the former Bleiburg battle field and well visited by numerous Croatians from around the world. The Yugoslav authorities were very angry whenever emigration groups reminded about the crimes committed by Tito’s partisans after World War II.
Zemljarič claims that he has nothing to do with the murders of emigrants. He denied that the Slovenian Udba murdered Martinović as well as any other Croatian emigrant. According to his words Martinović was assassinated by the Croatian terrorist group called the Croatian Revolutionary Brotherhood which he had belonged to. Zemljarič filed a document showing that this organisation admitted the assassination of Martinović due to his treason. But this document is very suspicious since it is not a part of the state archive. Moreover, asking the expert for Croatian emigrant organisations Mr. Bože Vukušić who is also the author of a book about the Croatian Revolutionary Brotherhood he replied that the seal on this document is forged. This seal was used only by the first leader of this organisation who was kidnapped and murdered in 1965, so ten years before the assassination of Martinović. Vukušić sent me the original seals used by this organisation and they all differ from that in the document filed by Zemljarič. Vukušić therefore filed a complaint to the police against Zemljarič due to forgery. So we could expect a very interesting discussion on 4 December when the trial for defamation in court starts. It is not surprising that few weeks ago Zemljarič lost the trial against Leljak who had been also sued by him for defamation in the same case.
Janez Zemljarič was the chief of the Slovenian Udba from 1974 to 1978, after that he was Secretary of the Interior till 1980 and then the President of the government of the Socialist Republic of Slovenia till 1984. This is not the only criminal complaint for these articles against me. There is also Mr. Silvo Gorenc who was the head of the Yugoslav Udba from 1972 to 1974, before that he was the head of its Slovenian branch and the Secretary of the Interior from 1966 to 1969 and 1969 to 1972 respectively. He also felt dishonoured because of articles I wrote in the Reporter weekly magazine in January 2014. The preliminary hearing at the Ljubljana district court took place in November 2014 but the trial hasn’t been called yet. I wrote more about this case in my blog: