OPINION

The cost of past inertia in the judiciary

None of the illegal acts that judges have recently been accused of were known to the judicial authorities, Supreme Court President Georgios Kapos confirmed, and he was certainly telling the truth. But does ignorance of these acts absolve the judiciary of any responsibility for the presence of perjurers in their midst? Were there no indications that something was going on? Unfortunately, there were: Kathimerini had published a report 12 years ago by Georgios Playianakos, then a Supreme Court prosecutor, which was sent to Anna Psarouda-Benaki, then justice minister and now parliament speaker. In his letter, the judge pointed out a series of «problematic» aspects to the administration of justice, laying emphasis on prisoners released as cured drug abusers and the special relations their families or lawyers had with judicial officials. Playianakos’s thoughts appeared in the findings of research conducted by deputy prosecutor Andreas Floudas, who later died in a traffic accident. These documents present evidence of things that, even if negligence rather than corruption, were sufficient to raise the alarm and trigger an investigation into the judiciary and a systematic attempt to protect the administration of justice from corruption or the possibility of a monstrous mistake. Suffice it to say that in a single year a certain prisoner was released twice as a rehabilitated drug abuser and was imprisoned twice as a drug addict during the same period. Twelve years have passed since Playianakos’s report, but nothing has been done. The Greek authorities turned a deaf ear and did nothing for years about an issue which the prosecutor had officially raised with the minister. They took no action, instead of being vigilant, righting wrongs and intervening in time to deal with suspicious cases. They took no action, as in so many areas of public life. We had to wait years for scandals to erupt before they dealt – in the heat of the moment and in the midst of confusion and recriminations – with a problem that had been allowed to burgeon. It won’t be at all surprising if, the minute all the fuss dies down, the reaction also abates and gives way once again to delays and the toleration of corruption and incompetence.