Judges press PM for concessions

TAGS: Justice, Politics, Media

Another meeting Tuesday between Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and top judges fuelled further controversy after an extension to the age limit of active judges emerged as the key topic discussed. Meanwhile, the Council of State was to convene again Wednesday to discuss appeals by television channels against the government’s recent auction of TV licenses.

After the talks with Tsipras, Supreme Court President Vassiliki Thanou told fellow judges in a briefing that the premier had been “very positive” towards her proposal that the age limit for Greek judges be extended beyond the current maximum of 67 years. Thanou, who faces retirement next June under the current limits, submitted her proposal to Tsipras along with several other judges who also face retirement next year, including Council of State President Nikos Sakellariou.

According to sources, the arguments put forward to Tsipras and other judges in defense of their proposal for the age limit to be extended by three years included the claim that the 67-year-old limit was merely a safeguard for judges who wanted to leave due to health reasons or other factors. If they want to remain active, however, the Constitution does not bar them from doing so, the judges argued. The judges also claimed that judicial systems in other European countries do not impose an age limit.

Meanwhile, following reassurances by Tsipras last week that top judges would see wage increases, judges working for the State Audit Council issued a statement Tuesday refusing to accept any pay rises. “We never asked for nor do we desire increases in the middle of a crisis,” they said. They also complained that Tsipras has not responded to their request to meet with him, first sent five months ago.

The Council of State’s plenary session is to convene Wednesday and again on Friday to reconsider the appeals lodged by TV stations against the constitutionality of a recent auction of broadcasting licenses. Sakellariou, the court’s president, came under fire last month after postponing a court session on the issue due to “efforts to create a certain climate” and concerns about attempts to influence the judgment of the court.