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Disciplinary action filed against two judges for procedural flaws

Justice Minister Lucia Žitňanská filed two proposals on Tuesday, June 28, to start disciplinary action against judges in the Bratislava I District Court, the SITA newswire wrote. The first motion suggests opening a disciplinary procedure against the judge whose mistake the minister believes led to the release from pre-trial custody of murder suspect Karol Mello.

Justice Minister Lucia Žitňanská filed two proposals on Tuesday, June 28, to start disciplinary action against judges in the Bratislava I District Court, the SITA newswire wrote. The first motion suggests opening a disciplinary procedure against the judge whose mistake the minister believes led to the release from pre-trial custody of murder suspect Karol Mello.

The latter case involves the release of three suspects charged with producing, possessing and trafficking narcotic and psychotropic substances. "In both cases, mistakes came to light which have threatened the trust of the public in independent, unbiased and just decision-making by the courts, and which have not only caused irritation among the public but also throw a bad light on the work of all involved in the Slovak judiciary. In order to restore a chance of trust in courts and judges, I consider it important that those responsible are held to account… and therefore I have decided, based on a thorough consideration, to file both proposals," said the minister, as quoted by SITA.

If the judge in the Mello case is found guilty, the minister proposes to punish him with a 70-percent reduction of his salary for one year and/or suspension from his post as a judge. In the Wednesday, June 29, issue of the Sme daily, the judge was named as Stanislav Dutko. After reviewing the files, the minister said she found sufficient evidence that the judge, in the preparatory phase of the case, did not act in line with the law. After closing the preparatory procedure and filing the charges, he ordered Mello to be remanded in custody, even though he was not the statutory judge in the case, and due to this procedural flaw the suspect had to be released. The judge was reported to have been the subject of a disciplinary procedure after a similar case in the past.

In the case of the release of the three accused drug dealers, the minister proposed to the disciplinary senate that the judge's salary be halved for a year if he is found guilty. The judge is suspected of procrastinating over a decision on custody so that it was impossible to submit the case to the superior court after the charged persons filed an appeal against the decision to take them into custody.

Sources: SITA, Sme

Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
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