Judges in turmoil over talks with Tsipras on pay

Judges in turmoil over talks with Tsipras on pay

The heads of Greece’s top courts have hit back at criticism regarding their meeting with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Thursday, when he pledged to protect their salaries, but the Union of Judges and Prosecutors has insisted that only it has the right to discuss pay issues on behalf of judicial officials.

Reacting to Thursday’s meeting, New Democracy said it suggested that an “exchange” was taking place between the judiciary and the government. In their statement Friday, the judges (the heads of the Supreme Court, Council of Audit and the Council of State) insisted there was nothing suspicious about the talks.

“The effort of some political parties to embroil the instruments of justice in political games is unacceptable and must stop,” they said, adding that a similar meeting had taken place when Antonis Samaras, now a New Democracy MP, was prime minister a few years ago.

The leading judges argued that their overriding duty is to protect the standing and independence of the judiciary and that any discussion about salaries was conducted in this context.

However, their union suggested that the officials are not in a position to discuss such matters. “The only bodies that have the right, under the Constitution, to truly express judges’ views on pay issues are their unions,” said the Union of Judges and Prosecutors in its statement.

The justices also reacted to criticism aimed at Council of State president Nikos Sakelariou after he suggested that courts should keep their “finger on society’s pulse.”

“The heads of the top courts, and all judicial officials in general, do not need instructions from anyone to apply the laws and the constitution, although this does not mean that they are cut off from society and its problems,” they said.

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