The war of words between the Greek government and the judiciary escalated on Monday, when the president of the country’s highest administrative court, the Council of State, made a statement that was broadcast live on television. In his statement, the president of CoS, Nikos Sakellariou, spoke of a systematic government attempt to “shake citizens’ trust in the justice system and its functionaries.” Sakellariou statement followed an harsh announcement by the Union of Judges and Prosecutors.
Issuing he statement on the anniversary of the restoration of democracy in Greece, following the fall of the junta, Sakellariou noted that the attacks by the leftist-led government on the judiciary were “completely unjustified” and “unprovoked.”
“I condemn, in the most categorical way, the completely unjustified attacks from wherever they may come,” he said, noting that the assaults “directly target the rule of law, of which the independent judiciary is a key pylon.”
Sakellariou referred to “unwise acts, abuse, unjustified and derogatory expressions as well as offensive references to judicial functionaries and suggestions that they are refusing to fulfill their basic obligations.”
The court president called on “all sides to show the requisite self-restraint to prevent the extremely serious institutional crisis that has been provoked by these acts and has led to this wretched exchange from escalating.”
On Sunday, the Union of Judges and Prosecutors issued a harsh statement accusing the government of “systematically attempting the complete subjugation and manipulation of justice, so that it operates not as an independent power but as a government mechanism.”
“Ministers and MPs daily level unfounded accusations against judges and prosecutors for supposed biased decisions and the existence of ulterior motives that aim to obstruct the government’s work. They are attempting to erode justice’s prestige so that they can control it more easily and present themselves as the only defenders of legality and those that ‘genuinely express the common interest’,” the statement said.
In this they were following the examples of Turkey and Poland, whose governments were abolishing the independence of justice, either by directly persecuting members of the judiciary or through shameless legislation, the statement said adding “enlisted in the attempt to control and subjugate justice were the “dirtiest mechanisms” at the disposal of the state.”
Among these were “the deep state of the thankfully very few willing ‘journalists/ pen-mercenaries and their followers, often hiding behind ‘asylum’ and privileges and remain in the background, sometimes using the parliamentary podium for convenient monologues”.
Athens News Agency notes that the union’s own vice-president has been targeted by these circles since Saturday, the union underlined that “our union will do its duty, which is to defend a free judicial morale and constitutional normality at any cost, without fearing this kind of pressure.”
The government attacks against the country’s judiciary reached a peak last week, when a court ruled that young PhD student known in the media with her first name “Irianna” had to remain in prison despite non-adequate evidence for being a member of an urban guerilla group.
Apart from the left-wing government point of view, it is many common Greeks who are frustrated about the justice decisions especially when it comes to rulings concerning whether austerity measures are conform with the Constitution or not or why famous fraudsters are not locked up in prison.
Beginning of the month, the Supreme Court triggered an outrage when it ruled that “no payment of salaries is not a harmful change of the work contract between employee and employer.”
Unfortunately, many Greeks believe that Justice is not blind or impartial as it should be and that money and connections influence courts’ decisions or that courts rule in favor of the Troika.
PS When common people have no trust into justice, then the country’s judiciary should take this criticism seriously – IMHO.
When one knows that the Greek Supreme Court of Justice is still an instrument of the ancient regime, the lclear words of Governement are totally justyfied!
Greece needs reform of Constitution and Law. Away with the Court of “Justice”!
The earlier, the better. Mrs. Thanou surely can do a great job in this sense.
Όλα στο φως!