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President has 15 days to sign new Constitutional Court law

President Ivan Gašparovič received from parliament on May 2 the approved amendment on the organisation of the Constitutional Court. He has 15 days to decide whether or not to sign it into law, and he will certainly make his decision within this statutory period, said the spokesman for the head of state Marek Trubač in response to the question of whether the president would accept the challenge of opposition Slovak Democratic and Christian Union (SDKÚ) MP Lucia Žitňanská.

President Ivan Gašparovič received from parliament on May 2 the approved amendment on the organisation of the Constitutional Court. He has 15 days to decide whether or not to sign it into law, and he will certainly make his decision within this statutory period, said the spokesman for the head of state Marek Trubač in response to the question of whether the president would accept the challenge of opposition Slovak Democratic and Christian Union (SDKÚ) MP Lucia Žitňanská.

In an open letter, she asks Gašparovič not to sign the bill and calls on the president to return it to parliament for reconsideration, and thus prevent a denial of the fundamental principles of the rule of law and to create a space for the Constitutional Court to find a way out of the situation without political intervention.

"I am aware that your position in this case is very delicate, since in the dispute before the Constitutional Court into which the legislature decided to intervene by a majority vote in such unprecedented fashion you represent Slovakia and thus you are in a conflict of interest," the letter says, as quoted by the SITA newswire.

On Tuesday, April 30, the Slovak Parliament approved a draft amendment to the law on the organisation of the Constitutional Court, affecting the proceedings before it, and the status of its judges. The draft was approved in a fast-tracked legislative proceeding, as proposed by the cabinet of Prime Minister Robert Fico, thereby bypassing any interdepartmental review or consultations. According to Žitňanská, the bill, among other things, seriously interferes with the right to an impartial judge.

The amendment was created in an effort to resolve the stalemate at the Constitutional Court over deciding on the case of prosecutor-general-elect Jozef Čentéš. The Constitutional Court is supposed to rule on whether President Ivan Gašparovič violated the constitution by refusing to appoint Čentés to the post, and to assess the reasons for the decision, which the president presented in late December 2012. Čentéš filed a complaint with the Constitutional Court immediately after Gašparovič announced his decision. Both sides later submitted complaints against individual judges of the court, alleging bias, effectively ruling out 12 of the court's 13 judges. The new law will mean that two judges from the original three-member senate assigned to hear Čentéš’ case, who were removed from the case after Čentéš successfully challenged them (he alleged, and the court accepted, that they were potentially biased against him), will now get to rule on the case after all. The opposition has said it will contest the new law at the Constitutional Court, the daily Sme wrote earlier in May.

(Source: SITA, Sme)
Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
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