Slovenian bribery trial against ex-PM Jansa expires

LJUBLJANA (Reuters) - A corruption case against former Slovenian prime minister Janez Jansa has expired, sparing him a retrial ordered last year after his bribery conviction was annulled and he was released following six months in prison.

Jansa, now Slovenia’s opposition leader, published part of the court decision on his Twitter account on Monday.

The national news agency STA reported a judge dismissed the case on appeal because Slovenian law at the time of the alleged bribery allowed unfinished cases to be dropped after 10 years.

Jansa, who was prime minister from 2004 to 2008 and for a year from February 2012, was sentenced to two years in prison in June 2013 for bribery in the planned purchase of 135 armored vehicles from the Finnish defense group Patria in 2006.

The contract was signed in 2006 after a prolonged period of choosing between two bidders and was eventually canceled.

Denying all accusations, Jansa appealed to the Constitutional Court, which in April annulled the sentence because of a lack of direct evidence and ordered a retrial.

He started to serve his prison sentence in June 2014 but was released in December pending the decision on his appeal. He continues to lead the centre-right Slovenian Democratic Party (SDS) and is a member of parliament.

The Ljubljana District Court declined to confirm the case had been dropped, saying it could not do so until all parties to the case receive the court decision sent to them by post.

Jansa’s SDS party is the second largest in parliament and placed just behind Prime Minister Miro Cerar’s centre-left Party of Modern Centre in an opinion poll published by the daily newspaper Delo earlier on Monday.

Slovenia’s next general election is due in 2018.

Reporting by Marja Novak; Editing by Tom Heneghan