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Judges see politics in Harabin’s court audit

AN AUDIT launched by Justice Minister Štefan Harabin of the case assignment systems at select Slovak courts has been attacked by one chief justice as revenge for the support of these courts for an electronic case assignment system to reduce corruption.

Harabin has asked that the electronic case assignment database be checked at courts in Veľký Krtíš, Banská Bystrica, Žilina and Bratislava, as well as at the Supreme Court, according to the Sme daily.

“This audit is aimed deliberately at courts that supported the Court Management [international project to reduce court workloads and corruption],” said Ľudovít Bradáč, chief justice of the Banská Bystrica Regional Court. “Looking for mistakes precisely at these courts shows that the audit serves some purpose. They are going to check to see whether someone interfered with computer-generated case assignments.”

Harabin was an opponent of the Court Management program, which stopped judges from choosing which cases they would rule on, a practice that invited corruption as it allowed judges who took bribes to pick likely candidates. He refused to introduce it as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, and tried to have the head of the pilot project, Jana Dubovcová, fired for “reducing the credibility of the court system”.

Cases are now assigned at random, while the system has reduced the administrative workload of judges by 80 percent, allowing them to concentrate on courtroom work and reduce their case backloads.

“It is also very questionable whether the ministry is entitled to launch such an audit of the Supreme Court,” Bradáč said.

Ministry spokesman Michal Jurči dismissed Bradáč’s accusations as “senseless claims”.

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