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Former Slovenian PM wins libel suit against YLE

A court in Ljubljana has ordered YLE to pay former Slovenian prime minister Janez Janša 15,000 euros in damages for a 2008 television report claiming that Janša took bribes. Janša won the libel case because the claims had not been proven in the courts.

Slovenian entinen pääministeri Janez Jansa.
Slovenian entinen pääministeri Janez Jansa. Image: EPA

In the autumn of 2008, YLE’s investigative journalism TV programme MOT aired an episode in which it reported that the Finnish defence contractor Patria had allegedly paid bribes totalling 21 million euros to officials in the Slovenian Defence Ministry as well as to then-premier Janša.

Janša denied the claim and called on YLE to pay 1.5 million euros in compensation for slandering his name.

While the court said that YLE reporter Magnus Berglund had sufficient grounds to believe that Janša took bribes, Berglund should have given Janša a chance to tell his side of the story. That said, the court did not take a stand on whether Janša was guilty of bribe-taking. A separate bribery case involving Janša is ongoing in Slovenia.

The Slovenian court on Tuesday ruled that YLE will have to withdraw its allegation in Slovenian media outlets.

YLE says it may appeal the ruling. Patria has also faced allegations of corruption related to arms deals in Egypt and Croatia.

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