PM seeks to win round judges as court head stresses need to 'feel social pulse'

TAGS: Justice, Politics

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras met with the country’s top judges on Thursday just a day after two top judicial officials resigned from their union in protest at a decision to suspend a ruling on appeals against the government’s controversial auction for television licenses.

Sources close to Tsipras said the meeting with the judges had been planned since last week and had nothing to do with the resignations of the two vice presidents of the Council of State, the country’s top administrative court, on Wednesday.

In his talks with the judges, who visited him at the Maximos Mansion, Tsipras assured them that there would be no further wage cuts in their sector and that “the necessary increases” will be made for top functionaries.

He added that the government is obliged to make the increases in line with recent court decisions that deemed cuts in recent years as unconstitutional.

Although sources insisted that Thursday’s meeting had been planned and was not a reaction to Wednesday’s resignations, there were hopes that tensions in the sector would be appeased.

But judicial sources expressed displeasure at comments by Council of State president Nikos Sakellariou, according to which the Greek judiciary should “feel the pulse of society.” Sources claimed such comments were a “mistake,” with some referring to an “institutional deviation.”

Sakellariou elaborated on Thursday on his decision last week to suspend a plenary session to consider appeals by television channels against a government auction of TV licenses because of “efforts to create a certain climate.”

He said it was his duty to ensure that judges are “not manipulated on the eve of crucial meetings.”

As for the resignation of his two colleagues from the country’s union of judges, Sakellariou referred to “an attempt to disturb the climate of unity in the court.”

It remained unclear when the Council of State’s plenary session will reconvene to discuss the TV appeals.

The developments in the judicial sector sparked another exchange between the government and conservative New Democracy yesterday, with the latter underlining the importance of an independent judiciary and calling on Greek judges to respect the Constitution.