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Justice Minister Harabin seeks to take powers to new position

Justice Minister Štefan Harabin, nominated by Slovakia’s HZDS party, has striven to amass more power over the country's courts but Slovakia’s strongest governing party, Smer, headed by Prime Minister Robert Fico may put a brake on Harabin’s plan to boost the power of the Supreme Court President, the post to which Harabin hopes to return, the daily Pravda wrote on June 11.

Justice Minister Štefan Harabin, nominated by Slovakia’s HZDS party, has striven to amass more power over the country's courts but Slovakia’s strongest governing party, Smer, headed by Prime Minister Robert Fico may put a brake on Harabin’s plan to boost the power of the Supreme Court President, the post to which Harabin hopes to return, the daily Pravda wrote on June 11.

But to preserve peace in the governing coalition, Smer might still allow Harabin to achieve his goal, the daily wrote.

Several MPs from Smer expressed their concern that Harabin would transfer jurisdictions related to judges according to whether he momentarily holds the ministerial post or is the president of the Supreme Court, who also holds the post of head of the Judicial Council.

The head of the Slovak parliament’s judicial and constitutional committee, Mojmír Mamojka, a Smer nominee, said that Harabin has gone too far. His party colleague Jana Laššáková joined the criticism by saying that the timing of the power transfer stirs doubts. She wondered why, as powers of the Justice Minister have grown for three years, these are now to be transferred to the head of the Judicial Council which Harabin seeks to head.

The election for president of the Supreme Court will be held on June 22. If the Judicial Council elects Harabin to the post, his current ministerial powers will be delegated to him again. A future Justice Minister would therefore lose the right to decide on personnel issues related to judges that would be transferred to the president of the Judicial Council. Despite these objections, Smer might decide to support Harabin's efforts as Laššáková said that it is not worth provoking conflicts inside the governing coalition, Pravda wrote. Pravda

Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
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