Defendants Spoke in Patria Trial
The main Patria defence deal bribery trial continued at the Ljubljana Local Court, with four defendants, including former PM Janez Janša, pleading not guilty and labelling the charges as lies and fabrications. The fifth defendant, Walter Wolf, was absent again due to medical treatment he is receiving in Canada.
Janša, who stands accused of accepting an offer of a bribe to allow Finnish company Patria win the 2006 tender for 135 armoured personnel carriers, argued today that he had not been in direct or indirect contact as regards Patria with anyone mentioned in the indictment and could not have had received the offer of a bribe.
Jansa said that the Democrats (SDS) and his government (2004-2008) also had nothing to do with the deal, as the decision to buy the APCs had been made before 2004. He added that the Defence Ministry had carried out the deal and signed the contract.
Jansa moreover denied being approached by anybody trying to influence him about the tender, while allowing that the then Finnish parliamentary speaker, who was on an official visit in Slovenia, spoke about the importance of good economic relations between the two countries.
The remaining defendants - Jansa's former close aide Joze Zagozen and army officer Tone Krkovic are charged with accepting a bribe, Ivan Crnkovic, the boss of the Rotis company selected to supply the APCs from Patria, with offering bribes - also denied all charges.
Zagozen did not defend himself today, but announced that he would do so during or after the main hearing, thus judge Barbara Klajnsek read his statement from the investigation.
Zagozen stressed at the time that he had been under great pressure from lobbyists during the deal, but had not complied with their wishes and had not interfered to secure the deal for Patria or Rotis.
He moreover said that it was possible that some lobbyists referred to him, but stressed that he had nothing to do with those who were responsible for the deal. Zagozen added that he had neither demanded nor accepted a payment and did not offer one.
Crnkovic said today that the authors of the indictment had filled the blanks, which were there due to the lack of evidence, with the help of their imagination.
He argued that the statements, written by the prosecution without providing any proof, had caused great shame to him and his family, as well as his company, which had in turn also suffered business damage.
Crnkovic also said that a meeting with Zagozen from 2005 had nothing to do with the Patria deal, it was about his intention to launch the production of biomass, a field in which Zagozen is "the real expert".
Crnkovic and Krkovic talked about their 2005 meeting with Zagozen, Patria's representative for Slovenia Reijo Niittynen and Wolfgang Riedel, a Patria middleman from Austria.
They claimed that Krkovic was there by coincidence, while Crnkovic called the meeting, but not for lobbying or offering rewards.
While Krkovic added that it was not a meeting, but "a chance encounter", the prosecutor explained that Patria's vice-president Tuomas Korpi told the investigators in Finland that Krkovic was there as the representative of the buyer, i.e. the Defence Ministry.
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