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Slavko Koroš, Head of Organised Crime Division in the Criminal Police Directorate of the General Police Directorate, and Branko Japelj, Head of the Criminal Police Division of the Ljubljana Police Directorate, presented the situation regarding extortion criminal offences and a recent successful investigation of such crimes at a press conference held today, 4 February 2009.

IMG 6621From left to right: mag. Branko Japelj, Head of the Criminal Police Division of the Ljubljana Police Directorate, Slavko Koroš, Head of the Organised Crime Division of the Criminal Police Directorate at the General Police Directorate, Drago Menegalija, Police Public Relations Officer for Criminal Matters

Offences threatening the safety of an individual may be divided into the following types of criminal offences, depending on the intensity and purpose of the perpetrator and the consequences:

  • criminal offence of Threatening the Security of Another Person (Art. 135 of the Penal Code (PC),
  • criminal offence of Extortion and Blackmail (Art. 213 of PC),
  • criminal offence of Self-willed Exercise of Rights (Art. 310 of PC),
  • criminal offence of Criminal Coercion (Art. 132 of PC),
  • criminal offence of Causing Public Danger (Art. 314 of PC),
  • criminal offence of False Imprisonment (Art. 133 of PC).
  • criminal offence of Kidnapping (Art. 134 of PC) and others.

Extortion or blackmail as a criminal offence is defined in Art. 213 of the Penal Code. Perpetrators are prosecuted ex officio, which means that the Police must do all they can to track down the perpetrator, make sure the perpetrator or participant does not escape or hide, detect and secure traces and objects that might be used as evidence and gather all the information that could be useful for successful criminal proceedings. First and foremost, the Police do all they can to protect the victim of the criminal offence. It has to be pointed out that the police clear up over 89 % of all such criminal offences.

In investigating criminal offences of Extortion/Blackmail (Art. 213 of PC) and Self-willed Exercise of Rights (Art. 310 of PC) investigators encounter different types of criminal conduct such as:

  • classic extortion,
  • purchase of debt originating from a previously existing debtor-creditor relationship,
  • extortion as part of other criminal activity,
  • kidnapping,
  • juvenile extortion,
  • racketeering.

In investigating criminal offences of extortion police officers frequently encounter silence on the part of victims or witnesses, who do not want to expose themselves before judicial authorities and police for different reasons, most frequently fear, gullibility or covering up their own illegal actions. All too often victims report these offences very late, when they see no other option, when they are on the brink of despair - when it is often too late.

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The Police have embarked on a campaign called "Don't let Yourself Be Blackmailed", with which they are trying to encourage potential blackmail and extortion victims to report these offences to the Police, which will respond immediately and take measures in accordance with their competences to investigate the criminal offence and take all the necessary measures to protect the integrity and safety of victims and witnesses.

IMG 6647It is very important to let criminals know right at the start that we will not be blackmailed and intimidated and to report each attempt to the police. People's confidence in the police and other official authorities is a prerequisite for a successful fight against crime, especially organised crime.

We appeal to all potential victims of these and similar offences to call 113 or the nearest police station and report these offences so officers can investigate them and protect people's lives and property.

At the end of January 2009 criminal investigators of the Ljubljana Police Diretorate investigated two criminal offences of Self-willed Exercise of Rights and False Imprisonment in one case and Extortion and Blackmain in connection with Art. 34 of the PC in another case. The victims in both cases came from the area of Ljubljana.

In the first case it was established that one of the victims did business with the suspect and owed him about EUR 6,000. The suspect knew that the victim's company was bankrupt and that he owed other companies as well. He tried to purchase the debts. According to the gathered information he purchased the debt from one company in the amount of EUR 34,000. He then tried to recover EUR 41,000 from the victim by using threats and force.

The suspect summoned the victim to his office. The victim obliged because he was afraid. The suspect threatened and demanded repayment of the debt. He also demanded that the victim let him use a building and land on which it stood, and punched the victim several times in the face and kicked him. The suspect had an accomplice; a 40-year old man from Ljubljana stood at the office door and made it clear that he was not going to let the victim leave the office. By doing so he exerted additional psychological pressure on the victim. As he was afraid for his life, the victim promised the suspect that he was going to get the money to pay back the debt in a few days. In that way he was finally allowed to leave the suspect's office, where he had been detained for one and a half hours.

In the following days the victim paid the suspect the demanded sum of EUR 41,000 but the suspect kept expressing his interest in the victim's real estate. When collecting information it was established that the suspect had showed interest in the victim's real estate and company earlier but the victim was not interested in any kind of cooperation or handing over the company to the suspect. The suspect then resorted to threats and force in recovering his debt and he also purchased other companies' debts to exert pressure on the victim to let him use the real estate and his company.

In the other case it was established that another victim borrowed EUR 50,000 from the same suspect in April 2008 for the period of two months. In doing so he had accepted that he was going to have to pay EUR 100,000 in two months time. This was documented in a notarial record and several plots of land were mortgaged as security. The victim borrowed the money despite the exorbitant interest rate since he was convinced that will manage to sell a real estate the value of which much exceeded the amount borrowed. The victim could not pay the money back in the agreed time so four months after borrowing EUR 100,000, i.e. in July, the suspect demanded an additional sum of EUR 120,000, for which another notarial record was made. It was agreed he had to pay the money back in October 2008.

The victim paid the above sum of EUR 220,000 in the beginning of November 2008, thus missing the deadline by a month. The suspect started extorting him and demanding an immediate payment of EUR 275,000 as costs for the late payment. He invited the victim to his office on a pretext that he wanted to borrow money from him since he knew that he had just sold a real estate of substantial value. The victim came to the office and explained that he could not lend him money as he was in the midst of buying another property. The suspect then started shouting at the victim and demanding EUR 275,000. He spent two hours threatening him.

As the 37-year-old Ljubljana man continued threatening the victim, he was arrested on the basis of the second paragraph of Art. 157 of the Criminal Procedure Act. He was brought before an investigating magistrate, who ordered pre-trial detention. A crime report has also been filed against the 40-year-old Ljubljana man from the first case.