November 30, 2022

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Slovenia’s interior minister, police chief quit over police raids

SARAJEVO (Reuters) – Slovenia’s interior minister and police director resigned on Tuesday over unannounced police raids investigating the purchase of medical ventilators which they said were politically motivated, local media reported.

Interior Minister Ales Hojs said Prime Minister Janez Jansa accepted his resignation after police early on Tuesday raided homes of several government officials allegedly connected to the purchase, national news agency STA reported.

Speaking in Ljubljana, Hojs added at a news conference that he himself had accepted the resignation of Police Director General Anton Travner.

Hojs said neither he nor Travner were told in advance about the raids, and he learned only later that the home of Economic Development and Technology Minister Zdravko Pocivalsek had also been raided and Pocivalsek taken into custody during the search.

Hojs said he believed the searches were politically motivated, and that he as a minister accepted political responsibility. The National Bureau of Investigation, which carried out the raids, reports to the police director general.

“You will find it hard to convince me that it is not about the political police, that it is not about the police not being in the service of the citizens but in the service of the deep state,” STA cited Hojs as saying to reporters.

Bureau spokeswoman Maja Ciperle Adlesic told Reuters that the bureau had conducted searches of houses related to an investigation of purchase of medical equipment.

The portal Necenzurirano (Uncensored) reported that bureau investigators were searching 11 sites, including the Ministry of Economy, over an 8 million euro deal to purchase medical ventilators.

Pocivalsek, whose centre-left Party of Modern Centre is a member of Jansa’s ruling coalition, belongs to a team in charge of purchasing medical equipment needed to treat COVID-19.

(Reporting by Daria Sito-Sucic; Editing by William Maclean)