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Slovenia Ex-Premier Jansa Gets Two Years in Prison on Bribes

Former Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Jansa was found guilty of taking a bribe in the procurement of military equipment from Finland’s Patria Oyj and given a two-year prison term.

The district court in Ljubljana convicted Jansa of taking money from the weapons maker in 2006, when Slovenia agreed to buy 135 armored vehicles for 278 million euros ($363 million), Judge Barbara Klajnsek said in the ruling today. Jansa has denied wrongdoing and said he will appeal the verdict. He was sentenced to two years in jail and must pay a fine of 37,000 euros, the judge said.

“The criminal offense in case of Jansa was proven in its entirety,” Klajnsek said. “Claims by the defense lawyers that accusations are not clearly defined are incorrect.”

He is the highest-ranking official in the country to be convicted on criminal charges. Jansa was ousted as premier in February after the nation’s independent anti-corruption agency, the Commission for the Prevention of Corruption, said he failed to declare his private assets.

“This is a politically motivated trial,” Jansa told reporters in Ljubljana after the verdict. “In the part that relates to law, I will use all legal means and in the part that relates to politics, I will use all political means so that this ruling won’t stand anymore. We will fight till the end and we will never give up.”

Two others, Ivan Crnkovic and Tone Krkovic, were also convicted in today’s verdict and given the same fine and sentenced to 22 months in prison.

Ruling’s ‘Message’

“This will send a message that the courts are acting to address these issues that seem to have run deep through the ruling establishment in Slovenia,” Timothy Ash, an emerging-markets economist at Standard Bank Plc in London, said in an e-mail today. We can also see “shades of Sanader in neighboring Croatia, and also Nastase in Romania, former prime ministers in the region, who have fallen victim to similar claims.”

Jansa’s Slovenian Democratic Party currently leads in opinion polls. Slovenia is now ruled by a coalition government under Prime Minister Alenka Bratusek and her Positive Slovenia party, which is struggling with a banking crisis and the second recession since 2009.

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