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On Saturday, 8 February 2020, more than 50 police officers from the units responsible for internal investigation in the Slovenian police, the National Bureau of Investigation and officers of the Specialised State Prosecutor’s Office carried out several investigative activities in connection with the abuse of short-term stay in the Schengen Area member states.

This is related to suspicions of corruption offences, which we detected by means of various activities, including covert investigative measures. House searches and other investigative acts were conducted, some of them in Austria, and some other measures for ensuring internal integrity within the police have been put in place.

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On the basis of internal integrity measures and own activity the police uncovered an international criminal organisation that enabled third-country nationals to stay in the Schengen Area irregularly and against payment.

It was revealed that five police officers of Gruškovje and Zavrč border crossing points were in on it, stamping passports of third-country nationals and falsely confirming their crossing of the external Schengen border, for which they accepted payment. Thus they enabled third-country nationals uninterrupted stay in the Schengen Area contrary to the Schengen regulations, which limit the stay to 90 days in any 180-day period. After the expiry of this period, a person’s stay in the Schengen Area is illegal.

The pre-trial procedure is steered by the Specialised Prosecutor’s Office. The suspects will be brought before the investigating judge.

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Today we have already made a short statement in connection with this investigation.

Director General of the Police Tatjana Bobnar, who coordinated the activities in this case together with internal investigation officers, has already ordered an extraordinary supervision procedure to check the effectiveness of control over border crossing points officers.

Labour-law procedures to terminate their employment contracts have been initiated against the suspected police officers for breaching contractual obligations. They will be suspended today for tarnishing the reputation of the police and violating contractual obligations.

Similar cases have been reported by some other countries on the external Schengen border. The risk of abuse in connection with the short-term stay in the EU is set to be eliminated in 2022 when the so-called entry-exit system is put in place, which will fully automate checks of entry and exit of travellers. Given the nature of abuse, we can guarantee that the security of the Schengen Area was not compromised.