Switching Sides

This one is a bit old – more than a week, in fact, but it almost got lost in the humdrum of Veseli december and political events of slightly greater magnitude. But a bit of background first. Five years ago (in 2002) an enterpreneur who goes by the name of Boris Popovič ran for mayor of the port city of Koper. His running for office was largely seen as a last refuge from those pesky tax collectors with whom Popovič apparently had a love-hate relationship (they loved to hate each other). Popovič owned a number of companies (including some very popular bars/clubs) which at various times attracted attention of the tax people and other inspectorates. But most of the time he got away clean. And then he ran for mayor – and won.

Franci Matoz (left) and Boris Popovič (right)

But immediately after his victory he was arrested on tax charges and held in detention for several months (BTW, Koper prison facility rates somewhere alongside the luxury Austrian prison Michael M. wrote about some time ago). And while most of Slovenia was at first convinced that Popovič was guilty as charged, it slowly emerged that the prosecution had untold problems with bringing formal charges against the detained mayor as evidence was being repeatedly thrown out, coppers in Koper (heh, nice one!) failed to produce new evidence and Popovič’s very able lawyer Franci Matoz (recenlty named one of the top 10 lawyers in Slovenia) was able to generate enough pressure (through law provisions, media exposure and some cleverly applied demagogy) to have Popovič released. He was, afterall, detained withouth proper charges.

Popovič’s case finally went to court, although it was clear that evidence was mostly circumstantial. But as if this wasn’t enough his case came in front of the least experienced judge of Koper district court. At this point it should be noted that the system requires that the judge presiding the court distributes the incoming cases evenly, with judges taking turns in being delegated cases. It was just Popovič’s luck to have his case given to a judge with milleage the lenght of Slovene coast.

Or was it?

Twelwe days ago we learned that Bogomir Horvat, the same presiding judge of Koper district court quit his post and joined Popovič’s team of lawyers as a partner in Franci Matoz’s firm. Uncomfirmed roumors also have it that upon the delegation of Popovič’s case to the inexperienced judge Horvat started sporting a brand new Audi – but it could be just a coincidence. If you believe that sort of stuff, that is…

Oh, and Popovič was re-elected mayor in 2006. Obviously.

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Agent provocateur and an occasional scribe.

18 thoughts on “Switching Sides”

  1. Sounds like someone’s (allegedly) been naughty! I guess you wouldn’t care whether Santa put coal in your stocking if you had a new Audi.

  2. @Lisa: Right you are… especially, and even the otherwise useful coal would be rendered useless by the audi’s heated seats 🙂

    @P: Just one correction (pardon my semi-legal background that makes me just anal-retentive enough to make the comment)… Matoz was not named one of the top 10 lawyers, but rather “one of the ten most influential lawyers” in Slovenia.

  3. So what is the reason then, that they voted that guy again? Does he have abilities or are there brain-damaging substances in primorsko vino? (I prefer stajersko anyway…)

  4. You’re talking about Koper and Popovič and you failed to mention our breathtaking, astounding, fabulous, fascinating palms?
    Only a superior mind, a person who truly understands art, architecture, has a soul of an artist can give to his city such a glorious gift.
    And you don’t mention it?
    He will be praised for his achievement for centuries, I assure you

  5. @lisa: especially since they stopped producing coal-powered Audis long ago 😉

    @dr. fil.: I stand corrected, obviously.

    @Dietmar: For one, the elections were held a year ago, when he was still widely perceived as a victim of an unfair judiciairy. Furthermore, for better of for worse he kick-started Koper which was lagging in development. Much like Zoran Janković did in Ljubljana.

    @Aja: Palms may or may not be a show of bad taste (I haven’t been to Koper since he had them planted), but choice of vegetation is not a political criterion. Take Ljubljana and willow trees along the river that were removed only yesterday: basically the same problem: what kind of vegatation will be alongside one the most prominent boardwalks. And yet it is not a political problem.

    This palm tree issue was hugely exaggarated.

  6. This palm tree issue was hugely exaggarated.

    I agree, it is true for all of those who don’t live in Koper, and for those living in Koper who don’t care whether they live in a plastic world or a real one

  7. oleanders, rosemary, lavender, bay trees, olive trees are even more real, specially for a place like slovene coast

  8. True… But palms are no stranger to coastal regions even in Slovenia, no? I mean, not to defenf Popo, but while his opponents lose breath over palms (purely a matter of taste), he goes running Koper like its his own personal turf.

    Perhaps this reminds you of some other mayor in this country?

  9. the lack of opposition in Koper is a mystery to me too, Boris Palčič also rises this question in his article V Kopru je zmagal kič http://obala.net/novice/news.php?id=13779

    what about the others?
    It’s true that Koper was starting to become a ghost city a few years ago, more and more shops were closed, empty streets in the evenengs, nothing going on,
    at the beginning maybe Popovič gave an impression of a fresh wind, a bold, brave kid (not to me, I guess a lot of people thought so)
    I really don’t know what mechanisms he’s using that people treat him like he’s untouchable, maybe some connections in high places, I don’t know

  10. Palms:
    Hmm, maybe there is a reason why people should start to like the trees :mrgreen:

    Well, this sounds like an arguement if someone succeeded to improve the economic situation for the inhabitants. Indeed.

  11. @Dietmar: Indeed. The problem is that after a certain period of stagnation the people will perceive anything, even bending/breaking the rules, as progress

    @Aja: put an A and an S in between 😉

  12. well, yeah, you can buy some people but never all, some are immune to money, no?
    yes, I’m sure of it

  13. I am actually relieved that I don’t have to vote in that city anymore.
    However Aja is right – not only cash, but probably threats and extortion are his tools, too. And the feeling the young and underachieving people get from him: if he got this far and be so almighty, then maybe I can, too. And also the obnoxiousness and arrogance of his performance may appear as a great confidence and knowledge.

    Palm trees are ok, as long as they grow somewhere more or less naturaly. From in front of the Gimnasium they took out a beautiful 30 or sth. year old oleander that made lovely shadow and replaced it with a fully grown palm tree. Yuck!

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