PM talks tough on corruption in judiciary

Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis yesterday vowed a zero-tolerance policy toward corrupt members of the judiciary, in the wake of the trial-fixing scandal that has led to four judges being sacked and over a dozen more facing prosecution and dismissal. «We are working to ensure that our justice system is blameless and enjoys respect among all Greek citizens,» the prime minister said in an address to Thessaloniki judges on the tenth anniversary of the northern city’s National School of Judges. «In this system of justice, corrupt judges have no position, and cannot be suffered for even a minute.» But Karamanlis took pains to stress that the current investigation’s results should not cast a shadow over the overall image of Greek judges. «Most of our judges, who honor their oath and are respectful of the institution, cannot be linked with whichever exceptions to the rule are found,» the PM said. The corruption investigation, which started earlier this year, led to charges being pressed against over a dozen members of the judiciary, many of whom are suspected of having participated in an organized trial-fixing ring. Churchmen and lawyers are also believed to have been part of the ring, which is thought to have revolved around archimandrite Iakovos Yiossakis, a priest currently in prison pending trial for antiquities theft. Apart from the suspected members of that ring, a number of judges have also been prosecuted – and some sacked – for other instances of corruption or other malpractices. On Wednesday, court of first instance judge Leonidas Stathis was remanded in prison pending trial for bribery and money laundering. Stathis allegedly received over 100,000 euros – between December 2004 and January 2005 alone – from at least 11 lawyers to issue favorable decisions.