Former Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Jansa has been sentenced to two years in jail on charges of soliciting bribes in the recession-hit country’s largest defense agreement in 2006.
On Wednesday, Slovenian judge Barbara Klajnsek said Jansa had been found “guilty on the charges of giving or receiving bribery or bribery promises in the acquisition of armored vehicles” from Finnish defense firm Patria.
He was also fined USD 48,350 (37,000 euros) at the end of the 21-month trial along with two other defendants.
However, Jansa has denied the charges, saying he would appeal against what he described as a politically motivated ruling.
Under the 2006 deal worth 278 million euros, Patria was to provide Slovenia with 135 armored vehicles as part of Ljubljana’s efforts to modernize its military. But, the deal was scrapped after the corruption accusations surfaced.
The former premier lost a vote of confidence in March after only a year in office amid nationwide protests over allegations of tax fraud and a financial crisis gripping the European country.
Jansa’s recent charges amounted to more public outrage at a corrupt political figure while the crisis-hit country is grappling with recession and struggling to avoid becoming another eurozone country in need of a bailout.
The All-Slovenian Uprising, the organizer of protest rallies against Jansa’s administration, also hailed Wednesday’s verdict, describing it a “landmark decision in the process of cleaning the Slovenian political landscape.”
Meanwhile, hundreds of Jansa’s backers staged a protest outside the court to express support for the former premier, slamming the verdict as “political vengeance.”
Slovenia, which was an economic star among EU newcomers when it joined in 2004 and adopted the euro as its currency in 2007 — was badly hit by the global crisis and fell back into recession in the third quarter of the 2012 amid lower export demand and budget cuts.
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