Judges being lined up for changes

The government is planning to change the way that Greek courts are managed as well as the manner in which judges are appointed, it was revealed yesterday. Speaking in Parliament, Justice, Transparency and Human Rights Minister Haris Kastanidis revealed that his department plans to submit two bills to Parliament in the early part of next year. One draft law will focus on the administration of courts. PASOK plans to return these responsibilities to judges. All the country’s major courts had been managed by judges for 15 years until the previous justice minister, Sotiris Hatzigakis, changed the system after numerous complaints about how the courts were being run. Kastanidis is adamant, however, that a return to self-management will not lead to a return of previous problems. «The improvements to the system will be such that even the fiercest critics of the scheme will have no arguments to put forward,» the minister told Parliament, without giving further details. Under the proposals being drawn up by the government, judges will elect the colleagues that will administer the courts where they serve. The government has rejected the idea that judges serving in a higher court should elect their colleagues at a lower one as this was seen as a system that was open to abuse and corruption. Each board of judges that is elected to run the court will serve only one term under the government’s proposals. The second draft law will focus on the way that judges are elected to serve at courts. PASOK wants Parliament to have a say in choosing the country’s top judges in order to avoid the justices being just government-appointees, which, the Socialists feel, politicizes the process. Kastanidis said that the bill that would return the administration of courts to their judges is to be submitted to Parliament next month. The draft law that would allow the House to have a say in who is appointed to the upper ranks of the judiciary will be tabled by March, the minister said.

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