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.