Wanted: Equality before the law

It would be naive, if not a sign of collective folly, to claim that a democracy can function smoothly without a healthy judicial system. That means that no one should ignore the people’s demand for a smoothly functioning judicial system as a silly obsession. Initial optimism over the announcement of a campaign to purge corruption from the judicial system has been offset by growing disillusionment with the failure to monitor corrupt judges – whose number seems to be considerable. In fact, a recent development has raised fresh concerns over the way in which the country’s judges see themselves before the law. In a personal statement, Supreme Court President Romylos Kedikoglou effectively exculpated 300 judges from serious charges. In a violation of the law, the judges had failed to submit their annual declaration of assets. Stepping into the case, the head of the Supreme Court attributed their wrongdoing to mere negligence. In an indirect yet clear fashion, Romylos pre-empted the decision of the court. The president of Greece’s highest tribunal, acting like a religious leader, went on to pardon judges who broke the law. Ironically, these people may one day punish Greece’s citizens who, for whatever reason, failed to submit their own declaration of assets. The unprecedented intervention by a Supreme Court president, which was aimed at smoothing the feathers of the judicial body, is a cause for serious concern. Top judges and the political administration of the Justice Ministry should be held accountable for that move by the Greek people. People must know why this happened as well as why they should put any trust in the country’s courts. It must be explained to the people how they are to continue to have confidence in the country’s judicial system when the very president of the country’s highest court does not hesitate to substitute for the work of criminal courts, absolving a huge number of his colleagues of their responsibilities.

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