Slovenian court acquits capital mayor in Mercator land deal case

Slovenian court acquits capital mayor in Mercator land deal case
By Ivana Jovanovic in Belgrade January 13, 2016

Ljubljana District Court has released the mayor of Slovenia’s capital, Zoran Jankovic, on January 12, in an abuse of office case dating to his time as CEO of retail chain Mercator and involving a land deal in Serbia, Slovenian News Agency (STA) reported.

The case involved a 2005 land deal for a Mercator shopping centre in the Serbian city of Nis, which fell through, with the centre later built at a different location. Jankovic was accused of signing a fictive contract between Mercator and a Cypriot company which caused €100,000 damages to the former.

While Jankovic and former Mercator management board member Stanislava Brodnjak were acquitted, the Ljubljana District Court sentenced Boris Milevoj, the boss of a Cyprus-based company Facim involved in the deal, to a year and a half suspended sentence, STA reported.

The Ljubljana District Court ruled that Milevoj, whose company was tasked with acquiring the construction permit for the centre, was an accessory, as he knew the deal would fall through. Milevoj's lawyer already said he would challenge the decision.

Jankovic and Brodnjak, although aware that the services would never be carried out, agreed that Mercator pay the bills issued by Milevoj's company, STA reported, sourcing the prosecution.

According to STA, the court said that the prosecutor failed to present sufficient proof that Janković and Brodnjak contributed considerably to the abuse committed by Mitja Marinsek, Jankovic's deputy, who had been excluded from the trial last year due to ill health.

Marinsek was the one who signed the services contract with Milevoj's company.

STA said that the prosecutor proposed a year and a half prison sentence for Jankovic and Milevoj. The proposed sentence for Brodnjak was a suspended sentence of also a year and a half.

The prosecutor claimed that the three men defrauded Mercator of €100,000 through a series of fictional contracts.

As STA reported, Jankovic reiterated after the trial that he had done nothing wrong, underlining that the contract signed by Milevoj and Marinsek was good for the retailer and that the €100,000 did not simply vanish. However, he couldn’t say where the money ended up.

He accused the prosecutor of "bullying him for eight years" and said that the trial was nothing but fodder for the media.

If the ruling becomes final, a part of the fees will be covered by the taxpayers and Jankovic's lawyer estimates that court expenses amounted to between five and ten thousand euros.

Jankovic is serving his third term as mayor of Ljubljana, having first been elected in 2006.