SAT, 24 FEB 2001 22:41:33 GMT
The former commander of the Moris Brigade's special unit reveals that the elite unit of the Slovenian Army, acting on orders from then defense minister Janez Jansa, planted an explosive device under the car belonging to MP Zmago Jelincic
Fortunately, the perpetrators were amateurs, and a major catastrophe in the heart of Ljubljana was avoided.
AIM Ljubljana, February 7, 2001
After seven years the truth about the involvement of the former defense minister and current head of the Slovenian opposition, Janez Jansa, in a bombing targeting MP Zmago Jelincic, has finally reached the public. Jelincic is still an MP, and the only difference is that seven years ago he was head of the Defense Committee of the Slovenian Parliament, because of which Jansa saw him as a dangerous political enemy. He, therefore, decided to shake him up a bit with a little help from army special forces. No sooner said than done -- the order is issued, the bomb explodes, the police arrive at the site to investigate, and label as suspects members of the special brigade who, according to eyewitness accounts, circled Jelincic's car before the explosion in a vehicle with easily recognizable license plates.
Jansa remained defense minister just long enough to protect the loyal officers. His ruin was caused by another event, known as the Depala Vas Case, when members of the special forces, under the pretext of investigating missing confidential military documents, laid an ambush on the Ljubljana-Maribor highway at the Depala Vas exit, intercepted a car in which Tone Smolnikar was traveling, pulled him out through a window and planted forged documents on him. Beaten up, Smolnikar ended up in the hospital, and Jansa was forced to resign. The Moris Brigade was disbanded, and the case was hushed down thanks to allies in key positions in the prosecution. The state prosecutor eventually dismissed all complaints against the perpetrators as groundless. The same would have happened in the Jelincic Case, had not one of the involved, Maj. Ladislav Troha, the former commander of the Moris special unit, decided to speak up. He confessed to having forged the guard log books to provide the individuals who had planted the explosives under Jelincic's car with an alibi. A new sensation followed: the brother of Ladislav Troha informed the press that his brother had disappeared, and that no one had seen him for over three weeks.
This time, however, the media failed to take the bait, placing more trust in the rumors that Troha had decided to lay low until the dust settles and the initial fury of his buddies, mentioned in his interview with the Maribor Vecer newspaper, subsides. After all, this was not Troha's first such endeavor -- he made it to the circle of media celebrities when two years ago, in uniform and playing a guitar, he protested in downtown Ljubljana against poor conditions in the army, accusing government officials of purchasing low quality military equipment. He was among the first to openly mention a taboo – arms trafficking -- and the army discharged him after many legal intricacies and hurdles. Only recently was he returned to service, this time in the Defense Ministry, where he got a job in the Department for Protection and Rescue. Maybe the new position encouraged him to speak up again before the Jelincic case was filed away as "unsolved," and accuse his former close associates, protected for years by the military intelligence.
But let us go back to the case of Jelincic's car. Immediately after the attack, the police discovered evidence leading to the bombers. There were no witnesses, however, that could link Jansa and the Moris unit to Jelincic's Volvo. Not until Troha refreshed their memory and clearly said that at noon on April 13, 1993, his superior, Moris commander Anton Krkovic, had told him at the Defense Ministry that "I've got a fucking scandal"; the night before, three hours after midnight a bomb exploded under Jelincic's Volvo 460, parked in downtown Ljubljana. A fresh lead was offered to the police by a security guard of a neighboring company. He said he saw a young man in the area and was surprised by his presence at that ungodly hour. He noticed that the man entered a Fiat Uno with Zagreb license plates. The latter quickly led police inspectors to Moris special unit member Robert Suhadolnik, who owned a vehicle matching that description. It was certain he was not working alone, and Troha says today that that he had two accomplices. Inspectors would have zeroed in on the suspects seven years ago, had Troha not received a summons for a meeting at the Defense Ministry in Ljubljana.
"There is no going back now. Minister Jansa has asked us to do what we can to salvage this," Troha was warned by his superior, Anton Krkovic. Troha understood that minister Jansa would ensure that interior minister Ivo Bizjak did not insist on an efficient investigation. To Troha's direct question Krkovic responded that the act was authorized to scare Jelincic. This is why, Troha believes, Janez Jansa as defense minister was directly responsible for the event. Eventually, Troha gave in to his superiors and provided Suhadolnik with a false alibi, forging the guard log book to say that the suspect was on guard duty at the time of the explosion. The investigation suddenly stalled and the police could but press charges against an "unknown perpetrator." This was the first in a series of incidents between the Ministry of Defense (Jansa) and the Interior Ministry (headed initially by Igor Bavcar, who meanwhile sided with another political option and fell off with Jansa, and later by Ivo Bizjak). The chronology of events in the case was noted in a police report (on illegal activities in the Defense Ministry), better known as "File No. 13"...
For now, the fate of the case is uncertain. A statement by State Prosecutor Zdenka Cerar saying that the motive of the bombing "is not known" is not encouraging, because the explosion is now viewed as "destruction of property," which indicates that the ruling circles are still doing their best to cover the incident up. There has been numerous speculation on the motives of the bombing of Jelincic's Volvo, but military intelligence has always managed to hide any leads. Now they are being covered up by the state prosecutor as well, stating that the entire matter was directed not against a certain person but against property. As far as practice in other countries goes, there are no dilemmas. Planting explosives under the cars of one's political opponents is seen as a clear case of terrorism. Although the U.N. has not yet clearly defined terrorism, according to leading world expert in the field, Paul Wilkinson, "all acts aiming to create a feeling of fear, or targeting the general public, assaulting symbols or generally carrying out attacks in violation of social standards, thereby attempting to influence political behavior," should be viewed as terrorism. Thus, for example, even a bank robbery is seen by Swiss courts as terrorism if the motives are political. After all, if in Belfast or in Corsica a car is blown up, it is not seen as "destruction of property."
The destruction of a thing that has some symbolic significance is always considered terrorism. Many terrorists take care to ensure that only property is damaged. The terrorist features of these attacks, however, stem from the threat that future action will target people who can be associated with the damaged objects. In the Jelincic case, the attack was planned and carried out on his son's birthday. This is why he saw the explosion as a threat that next time the same could happen to members of his family. Experts know when terrorists usually resort to attacking "lone targets." This happens in cases when "tacit approval of the masses" is expected, and when the attack is carried out in such a manner that there is no doubt it was aiming exclusively at "the elite," or "those who are responsible." This was obviously the objective in the bombing of Jelincic's car in downtown Ljubljana.
While the state prosecutor and her staff are searching for a way out of this volatile political situation, Slovenian political parties are unified for the first time. The activation of the Bombing Scandal does not suit the opposition led by Jansa, nor the Drnovsek coalition. Neither of them hold Jelincic dear, and somehow are convinced that the reopening the case would ruin the reputation Slovenia enjoys internationally. Despite the marketing efforts of Drnovsek's LSD, they will have difficulty hushing up "a terrorist attack to intimidate a political opponent."
After all it is hard to imagine that, for instance, somebody in London would accept use of the euphemism "destruction of property" to describe when an automobile explodes after a bomb is detonated beneath it. Intimidation of political opponents with bombs and abuse of secret services and the military is considered terrorism throughout the world. In Slovenia, a state where "democracy" is still in its infancy and which is accustomed to receiving only praise from Brussels, this is not the case.
Instead of clearing things up, and thus preventing such events in the future, the public is being fed the idea that for the sake of "the general well-being" the proper thing to do is turn a blind eye to the incident.
True, MP Jelincic is protesting, Ladislav Troha is not exactly around any more, but the police and the media are subtly suggesting that he has probably withdrawn on his own after exposing powerful and dangerous people. The fact that his disappearance was reported by his own brother is interpreted as an attempt at self-promotion. The police, true, are conducting an investigation, but are not making any progress because no one has offered them any leads. The people Troha mentioned are still scot-free, the former interior minister, Ivo Bizjak, is now a minister in the Drnovsek cabinet (this time, of justice), and the head of the entire Jelincic Volvo Project, Anton Krkovic, is in London, taking classes at the prestigious Royal College of Defense Studies! Some say, with malice, that he is probably learning how much explosive to use.