The president of Slovakia’s Supreme Court, Štefan Harabin, has filed a criminal complaint alleging abuse of power by a public official against three Constitutional Court justices: Ladislav Orosz, Juraj Horváth and Sergej Kohut. He alleged that by failing to recuse themselves from a senate that was deciding a disciplinary case against him they committed a criminal offence, the Sme daily reported on March 2.
The three judges sat on a panel that decided to dock Harabin’s salary by 70 percent because he had refused to allow employees from the Finance Ministry to conduct an audit of the Supreme Court’s finances in 2010. The proposal to start a disciplinary proceeding was lodged by former justice minister Lucia Žitňanská after six attempts to carry out the audit had failed.
“Judges cannot comply with the political wishes of politicians when making decisions, even if they used to be politicians before,” Harabin said, as quoted by the TASR newswire, pointing to the fact that Orosz, for example, was an MP for the Party of the Democratic Left (SDĽ) between 1998 and 2002. “Judges who do not respect laws and the Slovak Constitution cannot wear judges’ robes and should return to political parties.”
Constitutional Court President Ivetta Macejkova will respond to the complaint only after she reads it since it is a very extensive document, said court spokesperson Anna Pančurová.
The basis of Harabin’s legal complaint against Kohut, Horváth and Orosz is a ruling delivered by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg in November 2012 in response to a complaint he filed against Slovakia. According to the ECHR ruling, the Slovak Constitutional Court, when judging the proceedings initiated by Žitňanská, had not gone to sufficient lengths to consider challenges to the senate’s impartiality, noting that it included judges who had been excluded from other proceedings against Harabin.
Harabin argued that Kohut had declared himself not to be impartial and had excluded himself from a tribunal in a previous proceeding involving Harabin. However, when the disciplinary proceeding initiated by Žitňanská was assessed he did not rule himself out, Harabin noted.
Harabin demanded €51,299 in pecuniary damages and another €100,000 in non-pecuniary damages in the ECHR case, but the court decided that Slovakia should pay Harabin only €3,000 plus any tax in respect of non-pecuniary damages. Pursuant to the verdict, Harabin is also entitled to receive €500 in costs and expenses. His demand in this respect amounted to €643, TASR wrote.
Žitňanská said that it is a perverted and immoral situation when the top representatives of the Slovak judicial system are filing legal complaints against one another.
“This situation really evokes the impression that the foundations of the rule of law have been deeply shaken,” she told TASR. “What are normal people supposed to think? How are they supposed to trust in the Supreme Court or Constitutional Court?”
Compiled by Radka Minarechová from press reports
The Slovak Spectator cannot vouch for the accuracy of the information presented in its Flash News postings.
4. Mar 2013 at 14:00