Anna Benešová, a judge from the Bratislava Regional Court, will be demoted to a court of a lower instance after the appellate panel of the disciplinary senate of Slovakia’s Supreme Court found Benešová guilty of refusing to allow a recording of court proceedings in two cases, the SITA newswire wrote.
The appellate panel confirmed the original ruling of the Supreme Court's disciplinary senate from July 8, 2009 and rejected both the appeal of the demoted judge as well as the plaintiff, her direct superior, the head of Bratislava Regional Court, Gabriela Simonová.
In the past, Benešová’s attorney said that failure to record the two hearings could not be behind the disciplinary initiative and said that the true motive was two cases in which Judge Benešová's senate would have decided cases involving the former Justice Minister and current President of the Supreme Court, Štefan Harabin.
Benešová's attorney also said that the disciplinary proposal was not written by Simonová as she, as an expert, must have known that conditions for serious disciplinary punishment were not present. The attorney also said that Simonová in private apologised to the judge and said that she had to file the disciplinary complaint against her or else she would have been dismissed from her position.
Benešová was a judge in appellate proceedings of two libel lawsuits against publishing companies of Slovak dailies filed by former justice minister Štefan Harabin. The proceedings were suspended as Harabin objected that Judge Benešová was biased based on disciplinary proceedings he had initiated against her. Harabin was eventually awarded damages in the appellate proceedings by another judge assigned to the cases.
Representatives of the U.S. Embassy to Slovakia were present at the appellate proceedings on Monday on the bench reserved to the audience. “We are preparing a report about human rights in Slovakia, I came here as an observer,” Charge d'Affairs of the embassy, Keith Eddins, told SITA. He added that this is nothing extraordinary and that the embassy would continue monitoring similar disciplinary actions against Slovak judges.
Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
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8. Jun 2010 at 14:00