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Supreme Court Vice resigns in legal dispute over far-right party ban

The vice-president of the Supreme Court resigned on Monday in legal dispute with the conservative Mitsotakis government over the ban on far-right party ahead of the upcoming general elections on May 21.

Vice president Christos Tzanerikos was going to preside over the A1 Section of the courts that will judge the legality of participation in the elections of all parties – including the party founded by convicted former Golden Dawn MP Ilias Kasidiaris – resigned after the reactions caused by his public opposition on Sunday of the latest government amendment that regulates the functioning of the A1 section.

Tzanerikos publicly objected to the new amendment, describing it as government interference in the judiciary. He called the amendment “an unprecedented […] and direct intervention in the operation of the Supreme Court.”

The justice’s statements concerned an amendment that Interior Minister Makis Voridis submitted some days ago, which was complementary to earlier legislation seeking to prevent the re-entry of neo-Nazis in the Greek parliament.

In a statement, judge Tzenerikos also said that the amendment’s “ostensible reasoning” of supporting and defending any Supreme Court decision so it would not be cast in doubt expresses “the distrust and lack of confidence in my person on behalf of the government, which made the related legislative initiative.”

Judge Tzanerikos, one of 10 serving vice presidents at the court, tendered his resignation after the government introduced supplementary draft legislation to parliament aimed at barring the Greeks Party from the May 21 election.

The Greeks Party was founded two years ago by a jailed former lawmaker of the extreme right Golden Dawn party. Parliament in February approved a legislative amendment to ban it from fielding candidates in elections.

The party appointed a new leader last week to try to bypass the ban, prompting the government to submit a new amendment, broadening the scope of the ban. It is also calling for a plenary session of the Supreme Court to consider the ban, instead of a regular session.

Tzanerikos publicly objected to the new amendment, describing it as government interference in the judiciary.

Participation of the Greeks Party could have a significant impact on the May 21 election, narrowing coalition options, with opinion polls showing that no outright winner is expected.  [amna, AP]

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