LJUBLJANA, Slovenia (AP) — Slovenia's former Prime Minister Janez Jansa went to prison Friday to begin a two-year sentence for bribery in an arms deal with a Finnish company.
Some 2,000 supporters gathered outside the Dob prison, near the capital Ljubljana, as Jansa went inside. Some carried banners comparing him to South Africa's late President Nelson Mandela.
Jansa, addressing the crowd, urged them to vote for his Slovenian Democratic Party in July 13 elections.
"On that day, we must paint Slovenia in the colors of freedom and justice," declared Jansa, who served as prime minister twice following Slovenia's 1991 independence from Yugoslavia.
Jansa and two others were convicted last year of accepting about 2 million euros ($2.7 million) in bribes while in office to help the Finnish firm Patria win a 2006 contract for 135 armored personnel carriers worth 278 million euros ($377 million).
He previously was imprisoned for several months in Dob in 1988 and 1989 when he was convicted for allegedly disclosing military secrets. That verdict was widely seen as politically motivated and triggered a wave of demonstrations.
He again has denied he is guilty of any offense.
Associated Press reporter Jovana Gec in Belgrade, Serbia, contributed to this report.