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Judge sees 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 given by 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, who was fired by Harabin on October 4 with many other court officials around the country.

"Looking for mistakes precisely at these courts shows that the audit serves some ulterior motive."

Harabin was an opponent of the Court Management program introduced in 2001. The program 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. Harabin 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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