NEWS BRIEFS

Slovak judges say judicial system needs more money

The Association of Slovak Judges (ZSS) is worried over news that the state budget for the year 2000 maintains the 1999 freeze on judges' salaries. ZSS vice president Anton Jacek told the press on June 30 that if salaries are not increased, the judicial system will collapse. Jacek cited the increasing number of judges leaving the courts in support of his forecast.

The Association says working conditions at some courts are miserable, and named three judges from the Trnava district court who are allegedly leaving the judicial system because of poor job conditions. However, when journalists cited cases in which judges have been convicted of criminal offenses, representatives of the Association admitted that all is not well with the Slovak courts. "Though there are some indications of corruption among judges, our aim is not to call a witch hunt," said ZSS President Pavol Roharik.

More than half a million lawsuits are waiting to be settled as of June 9, the day that Slovak parliamentary deputies elected 48 new judges to a four-year tenure. The government hopes that by adding more judges to district courts, the backlog of cases may be cleared and the finances frozen in commercial lawsuits freed to contribute to economic revival.

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