Judges aim for improved system

Greece’s top judges directly disagreed with Prime Minister George Papandreou yesterday, insisting that the country’s judiciary is doing all it can to dispense justice promptly but that certain measures, such as deterring people from bringing frivolous cases to court and improving courthouse facilities, would help make the system better. For the first time, the heads of the Supreme Court (Giorgos Kalamidas), Council of State (Panayiotis Pikrammenos) and Court of Audit (Giorgos Kourtis) as well as Supreme Court prosecutor Yiannis Tentes were invited to take part in a Cabinet meeting. This continued Papandeou’s tactic of inviting nonpolitical figures to the meetings. Papandreou suggested that many people, both at home and abroad, have begun to think that the law is not being applied in Greece and that justice is elusive. The judicial officials disagreed with the interpretation. «There is no impunity in Greece today,» said Tentes. «Judges do their duty.» Pikrammenos said that last year the Council of State processed 7,000 cases (although it did not issue verdicts in all of them), the equivalent of 580 a month or 25 a day. However, Pikrammenos said that measures need to be taken to lighten the court’s load. He suggested that one of these could be to increase the cost of bringing a case. Kalamidas also proposed that changes be made to the law so that there are more out-of-court settlements. He added that court facilities need to be improved, criminal courts need to stay open longer and there needs to be stricter limits on the postponement of trials. Kourtis said it was vital that new judges entering the system do so because they truly believe in justice and not simply because they want to make a living.

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