Tomaž Ertl was the last communist-era interior minister and was in charge when incumbent Prime Minister Janez Janša was arrested in 1988 along with three other people as part of a probe into the leak of a secret army document that proved that the Yugoslav army was getting ready to carry out a coup in Slovenia.
This was why President Danilo Türk's decision in late 2009 to decorate Ertl with the Silver Order of Service for his contribution to independence sparked protests from Janša's Democrats (SDS), fellow opposition People's Party (SLS) as well as several other key players of the independence movement and many other public figures.
The opponents argued that as head of the police force and secret service Ertl was responsible for systemic violation of human rights.
Ertl was honoured for his role in the 1989 police campaign dubbed Operation North (Sever), which prevented a rally that Serbian nationalists wanted to stage in Ljubljana. The same type of rallies spread in the region of the former Yugoslavia in 1988-1989 and have contributed to the ensuing Balkan wars.
The decoration was followed by months of acrimony as the SDS and SLS filed an impeachment motion against the president in late January 2010. The first ever such motion in Slovenia was then voted down in parliament in early March, but the controversy continued and further undermined trust between Janša and Türk.
Due to public pressure, Ertl was willing to return the medal had Türk wished so, but the president insisted on his decision arguing that Ertl was decorated for a particular operation along with two other senior officers at the time and that the honour had been proposed by the Sever Association.