The cabinet, conducting an away-from-home session in Michalovce in eastern Slovakia on Wednesday, September 26, dismissed three members of the Slovak Judicial Council, which oversees the work of the judiciary. Ľudmila Babjaková, Jozef Vozár and Alexander Brostl were all appointed in January 2011 by the previous government, led by Iveta Radičová, the TASR newswire reported.
Justice Minister Tomáš Borec proposed Eva Fulcová, Jaroslav Chlebovič and Ľuboš Sádovský as their replacements and the candidates were immediately approved by the cabinet. The three new members are set to take up their posts today, September 27.
One of the three dismissed judges, Babjaková, was among the founders of an initiative called 'For an Open Judiciary', which has criticised the current state of the Slovak judicial system and Supreme Court chairman and former justice minister Štefan Harabin, who is also the head of the Judicial Council.
Slovak Democratic and Christian Union (SDKÚ) MP and former justice minister Lucia Žitňanská rejected accusations levelled earlier on Wednesday by Prime Minister Robert Fico that the three dismissed members of the Judicial Council had been pursuing political agendas. There are public records of the Judicial Council's deliberations and anyone can listen to them in order to form their own opinion, Žitňanská said at a press conference on Wednesday, as quoted by TASR. "These records give some insight into who is who on the council… Also, I feel sorry that the apolitical Justice Minister [Borec] lent his name to such an explicit political game, played in line with the interests of Harabin, who still enjoys support from Fico – albeit for reasons I fail to understand," she said.
Radoslav Procházka, an MP for the opposition Christian Democratic Movement (KDH), said that he would not criticise the government's right to dismiss members of the Judicial Council, as Radičová's cabinet (of which his party was a member) had done the same thing. "However, when it did so, Mr. Harabin vehemently protested that the action was unconstitutional. Since at least some consistency in opinions is expected from the head of the judiciary, we expect him to criticise today's decision by the government as unconstitutional equally loudly and clearly," said Procházka.
The only way the government can help remedy the situation in the Slovak Judicial Council is via its three nominees in the body, Borec said after the replacement. "Like the previous government of Radičová, we've decided to use our right in the matter to replace nominees of the previous government in the Slovak Judicial Council. All three newly-appointed members are apolitical experts and I believe that they will contribute towards the restoration of the proper operation of the council," said the minister. He added that the council should begin to meet on a regular basis as soon as possible and carry out its tasks.
The Slovak Judicial Council consists of 17 members, of whom three are nominated by the government, three by parliament, three by the president, and eight by judges themselves.
Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
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