New top judges named

Changes to the upper tier of Greece's judiciary were unveiled by the government yesterday in the hope that the country's «cream of the crop» would help restore respectability in the wake of corruption scandals that have rocked the justice system in recent months. «These judicial officials have been chosen on the basis of their moral standards, grounding and performance,» said Justice Minister Anastassis Papaligouras after a cabinet meeting during which new heads for the Supreme Court and the Council of State were chosen. The changes were scheduled as the former heads of the court had reached retirement age. Papaligouras named Romylos Kedikoglou as the new president of the Supreme Court and Giorgos Panayiotopoulos as the next president of the Council of State, Greece's highest administrative court. The minister also elevated five judges to vice presidents of the Supreme Court and two judges were named vice presidents of the Council of State. The judiciary has been mired in scandal since the beginning of the year as allegations of corruption have flowed. Seven judicial officials have been sacked by the Supreme Court in the past few weeks and at least a dozen more are facing dismissal. The allegations have reached right to the top – Achilleas Zisis, a Supreme Court vice president, is under investigation for allegations of dealings with a businessman on the run from the law. Another 13 people, including seven judges, are waiting to stand trial for offenses that include bribery and money laundering in connection with a trial-fixing group. «The weight of responsibility is greater at the moment because of the crisis that is plaguing justice, as an institution,» said Panayiotopoulos, the president-elect of the Council of State. Meanwhile, an appeals court yesterday handed down a jail sentence of three years and 10 months to former judge Constantina Bourboulia. Bourboulia was found guilty of mishandling, between 2000 and 2002, a probe into stock market improprieties and of accepting bribes.

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