Top judges and prosecutors on Wednesday dealt a blow to a controversial initiative by Supreme Court president Vassiliki Thanou to extend the age limit for Greek judges beyond the current maximum of 67 years, with 40 voting against the move and 25 in favor.
The court’s plenary session as well as its council of prosecutors both convened for a parallel discussion of the initiative that lasted for around four hours and was said to be tense.
According to sources, most of the judicial officials present deemed that a discussion about a possible extension to the age limit for judges should only be held as part of a broader review of the Greek Constitution, when that happens. Thanou refused to amend her question to reflect this observation and insisted that judges and prosecutors express their opinion on her original motion. The vote resulted in 40 judges and prosecutors rejecting the motion and 25 voting in favor of an extension of the age limit but not determining a timeframe. None of those present backed Thanou’s call for an immediate extension.
Thanou’s move had fanned much controversy, with political parties, bar associations across the country and Justice Minister Stavros Kontonis himself opposing the move. In a statement last month, the main union representing Greek judges and prosecutors referred to “unconstitutional initiatives that harm the integrity of the judiciary and its functionaries.” More broadly, Thanou’s initiative was widely rejected as a selfish bid to extend her own term, which is due to end this summer with her 67th birthday.
In an article published in Kathimerini on Wednesday, Thanou claimed that the concept of a “judge for life” has already been established by the constitutions of 1844 and 1864, adding that the Greek Constitution of 1911 foresaw the departure of top-ranking judges aged 75.