Cleaning up the judiciary

Allegations by Supreme Court President Romylos Kedikoglou, who attacked the «unsuitable» handling of prosecutors and judges in three outstanding cases – some with direct or indirect political repercussions – have caused a storm. Addressing the Union of Prosecutors on Sunday, the head of the the Supreme Court went as far as to charge that «appeals court prosecutors have in the past put pressure on magistrates to refrain from investigation in an attempt to hinder the prosecutor’s work.» It would be wrong to underestimate the gravity of the words coming from the mouth of the country’s top judge. People will await the results of further investigation of these cases by the responsible authorities. But, at the same time, people can also draw a broader conclusion: If the Supreme Court president feels the need to make such allegations, it means the problem with extrajudiciary rings is worse than commonly thought. It is likely that we have only seen the tip of the iceberg – impressive as this may have been – with judges who were trafficking in people, or those who grew fat on ill-gotten share gains, not to mentiiontheir colleagues who acted on behalf of priestly felons. «Cleaning up [the judicial system] is painful, but it is the only path open to us,» Justice Minister Anastassis Papaligouras said at the same meeting. The conservative minister was backed up by Parliament Speaker Anna Psarouda-Benaki who welcomed the fact that «finally, the state and the judiciary have decided to drill to the bone of the issue.» Judges have thus vowed to clean up the judiciary. Even though their pledge underscores the extent of the problem and the urgent need for a solution, their public commitment and determination to clamp down on the extrajudiciary rings is very encouraging. People are anxious to taste the fruits of the self-cleansing process that is already in motion. At a time when self-styled avengers are trying to fill the institutional vacuum created by corrupt judges, it is important that justice and judges convince the public that they are fully committed to their precious task.