Slovenian court confirms jail sentence for ex-PM Jansa

LJUBLJANA (Reuters) - A Slovenian higher court on Monday upheld the jail sentence passed on opposition leader and former prime minister Janez Jansa for bribery in a 2006 arms deal, the top state prosecutor said.

Former Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Jansa (2nd L) reacts as he steps out of the court after his corruption trial involving Finnish company Patria in Ljubljana June 5, 2013. REUTERS/Srdjan Zivulovic

“I can confirm that I have received the ruling, under which Janez Jansa gets two years in prison and two other co-defendants 22 months,” prosecutor Andrej Ferlinc told reporters in Ljubljana.

Jansa was sentenced last June and appealed the verdict. He had denied taking money in the planned purchase of 135 armored vehicles from Finnish defense group Patria while he was prime minister. The deal was eventually canceled.

The official STA news agency quoted the higher court ruling as saying “the complaints of the defendants’ lawyers were dismissed as unfounded and the first-instance ruling was confirmed”.

A prison sentence for the opposition leader further complicates the outlook for the small euro zone member, plunged into fresh turmoil after Prime Minister Alenka Bratusek lost leadership of her center-left PS party at a weekend congress.

The move is widely expected to bring down her government and trigger an early election. Bratusek is expected to reveal whether she will quit the government on Tuesday.

Jansa’s conservative SDS party is the second strongest in the current parliament with 26 deputies in the 91-seat assembly.

Jansa championed Slovenia’s drive to secede from Yugoslavia in 1991 and was prime minister from 2004 to 2008 and again for a year until March 2013.

His center-right government fell in February last year, after an anti-corruption commission said Jansa was unable to explain the origins of a significant part of his income over several years.

Six people in Finland are being prosecuted over the same arms deal and an Austrian court has convicted an Austrian citizen of corruption. The 278 million-euro ($363 million) contract was scrapped in 2012 after the allegations surfaced.

Prosecutors in Finland said last June they would charge three former Patria executives with bribing government officials in Slovenia’s neighbor Croatia.

The Finnish government owns around 73 percent of Patria while European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company (EADS) holds some 27 percent.

Reporting by Zoran Radosavljevic; Editing by Andrew Roche