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Judges win reimbursement; Justice Minister Žitňanská rejects their claim

ELEVEN Supreme Court judges have succeeded in court trial against Supreme Court over salary discrimination. The judges should be given €100,000 each in compensation plus a further €4,566 as a reimbursement for their costs, the Hospodárske Noviny daily reported earlier this week. The discrimination is supposed to have been caused by the fact that judges of so-called Special Court dealing with the most serious crimes and corruption were paid more in the past than other judges.

ELEVEN Supreme Court judges have succeeded in court trial against Supreme Court over salary discrimination. The judges should be given €100,000 each in compensation plus a further €4,566 as a reimbursement for their costs, the Hospodárske Noviny daily reported earlier this week. The discrimination is supposed to have been caused by the fact that judges of so-called Special Court dealing with the most serious crimes and corruption were paid more in the past than other judges.

Over 700 judges have sued the state over alleged salary discrimination, claiming they were paid €4,000 a month less than their colleagues in the abolished Special Court. If the courts confirm the claims, the state will have to pay, all together, €70 million in reimbursement, TASR newswire reported.

President of the Supreme Court, Štefan Harabin, chose not to appeal against the original ruling. The Supreme Court said on July 26 that the court and its chairman Harabin are not entitled to appeal against the verdict as they have to respect the decision of the Constitutional Court's plenum that was issued to the benefit of the complaints.

“I respected the ruling of the Constitutional Court which stated that there was salary discrimination,” said Harabin in a political talk show on TA3 television. He added that the plenary of the Supreme Court advised him not to appeal.

According to the Supreme Court plenum, the Supreme Court chairman should not appeal against the verdict, as such a move would increase proceeding costs covered by taxpayers.

"Under the Constitution, it is impossible to overrule the decision made by the Constitutional Court plenum," reads the statement published by TASR newswire.

Such a verdict, however, can become a precedent in other cases. Even Harabin acknowledged that it could encourage other judges to claim for financial compensation.

The Ministry of Justice, led by Lucia Žitňanská, rejects the salary discrimination claims. It is therefore attempting to find a way to avoid reimbursing the judges.

“We are considering our next move,” Žitňanská said, as quoted by SME daily. “Our aim is to defend the interests of Slovakia and its people.”

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Finance has stated that it will not pay the compensation to the judges unless Harabin allows the auditors of the ministry to enter the court to check its financial management.

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