March 11, 2015 / 4:12 PM / 3 years ago

Slovenia police launch probe against former PM Bratusek

LJUBLJANA (Reuters) - Slovenian police raided the home of ex-prime minister Alenka Bratusek on Wednesday in search of evidence that she might have abused her position when her cabinet nominated her last year as a candidate for European commissioner.

Alenka Bratusek arrives during a news conference in Ljubljana April 29, 2014. REUTERS/Srdjan Zivulovic

Slovenia’s first woman prime minister, Bratusek steered the tiny ex-Yugoslav republic in 2013-14 through its worst financial crisis since winning independence from Belgrade in 1991.

The police told Reuters a total of 27 policemen searched Bratusek’s home and the offices of her party, the Alliance of Alenka Bratusek, in an investigation which started early in the morning and continued in the afternoon.

Last year Bratusek’s center-left government nominated her as one of three candidates to become Slovenia’s member of the European Commission, the EU’s executive arm. She withdrew her candidacy after members of the European Parliament rejected her following a parliamentary hearing.

The police said Bratusek had no material gain from her candidacy but said she may have “misused her official position”. If found guilty she could be jailed for up to one year.

Bratusek said the investigation at her home was “entirely unnecessary” since all documents about her nomination had been held by the Anti-Corruption Commission for some time.

Last October, the Commission said Bratusek should not have voted on her own candidacy but took the matter no further.

In December 2013 Bratusek’s administration recapitalized local banks that were sinking under a tide of bad loans by pouring in more than 3 billion euros of its own funds.

This enabled Slovenia, a euro zone member, to narrowly avoid an international bailout.

Several months later, Bratusek quit her post after losing a battle for the leadership of the ruling Positive Slovenia party. She formed her own party which won four seats in parliament in a July snap election.

Reporting By Marja Novak; Editing by Zoran Radosavljevic and Gareth Jones

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