Judges hit back at political criticism from president, minister

Tensions are simmering between the judiciary and the political establishment after the national union of judges and prosecutors lashed out at recent statements by senior officials, including President Karolos Papoulias, that questioned the rectitude of a series of judicial decisions on cases relating to corruption and domestic terrorism.

In a statement, the union dismissed as “unacceptable” recent comments by Papoulias, who expressed dissatisfaction at the acquittal in December of several suspects implicated in the Athens Stock Exchange scandal. The president had pressed for a more efficient crackdown on corruption, declaring that “heads must roll.” The judges’ union retorted that the ATHEX shares bubble was primarily a “serious political scandal” but that no politicians had taken any of the blame. It added that the role of judicial officials was to “dispense justice in a prudent and independent fashion and not to ensure that heads roll.”

The union also lashed out at recent comments by Public Order Minister Nikos Dendias blaming the judiciary for the fact that convicted November 17 terrorist Christodoulos Xeros has gone missing while on leave from Korydallos Prison.

“No one has the right to write off the difficult, painful and difficult task of judicial officials and to ignore the fact that it was them who interrogated, indicted, tried and convicted individuals involved in terrorist activities,” the union said, adding that “individual cases” should not eclipse the achievements of the judicial sector.