Judicial officials appeared to be heading for a direct confrontation with the government Wednesday due to concerns that a law handing life sentences to corrupt public servants is about to be watered down and that the coalition is ignoring court rulings that do not fit in with its policies.
Members of the State Legal Council issued a statement Wednesday expressing their concern about what they say are plans to introduce lighter sentences for crimes committed by ministers, MPs and other public officials. They said there is a “clear effort to reduce sentences that are connected to the protection of public assets.” They added that for some crimes, officials would receive a jail sentence of only up to five years, rather than the life term the law stipulates at the moment.
The Justice Ministry denied that it has such plans and argues that the draft law it has prepared is being misinterpreted.
However, this was not the only flash point between judges and the government. The Union of Administrative Judges voiced objection to leaks from the Finance Ministry regarding the extra austerity measures that would need to be adopted by the government if courts reverse some of the wage and pension cuts that have been imposed over the last few years. The union accused the coalition of “social blackmail” and suggested it was turning a blind eye to court rulings that did not suit its aims.
“We express deep concern regarding the executive power’s consistent refusal to abide by court decisions that deviate from its policies,” said the union.