Lawyers call for deeper graft probe

The ongoing investigation into corruption within the judiciary has only skimmed the surface, according to the head of the Athens Bar Association (ABA), Dimitris Paxinos, who told Sunday’s Kathimerini that inspectors had for many years turned a blind eye to graft among judges. «Of course we did not suddenly arrive at the current situation,» Paxinos said. «A lot of time and effort was required by those entrusted with checking high-ranking judges. They did not see anything, did not hear anything and did not say anything,» he said of the inspectors responsible for monitoring the justice system. Paxinos described them as being «from a different planet.» Since the start of last year, a number of suspected trial-fixing rings have allegedly been uncovered, leading prosecutors to charge 31 people, including judges and lawyers, in connection with using bribes to ensure the outcome of trials. Since last January, 11 judges have been fired by the Supreme Court for a range of offenses. «Colleagues of mine did not want to complain about unjust rulings for fear of being targeted by these [corrupt] judges,» Paxinos said. «Maybe the lawyers felt that they might also be treated favorably [by the judges] in other cases because they had shown good behavior.» One of the alleged trial-fixing rings has centered around former priest Iakovos Yiossakis, who is alleged to have acted as a middleman between lawyers and judges, particularly in cases where drug dealers are said to have secured early release from prison. «At the moment, the investigations that are coming to light are focused on Archimandrite Yiossakis, who has no part in the big cases where huge amounts of money are involved,» said Paxinos, claiming corruption in Greece was almost on a par with a Third World country. The ABA last month reprimanded three of its best-known members, lawyers Alexis Kouyias, Giorgos Alfantakis and Frangiskos Ragousis, for damaging their profession through their behavior on television. Paxinos admitted that the actions of a few lawyers who put in regular appearances on television shows was tarnishing the image of all lawyers.

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