Judicial senate changes were appropriate, says Borec

CHANGES made to the composition of the judicial senate in a case over a dispute between Supreme Court President Štefan Harabin and the General Prosecutor’s Office were made in compliance with the law, Justice Minister Tomáš Borec told journalists on November 12. He was referring to information published by the Sme daily in its November 8 issue on several unusual developments at the court during the adjudicating process, including the decision to take the case away from the panel of judges which had overturned a previous ruling awarding Harabin financial compensation.

CHANGES made to the composition of the judicial senate in a case over a dispute between Supreme Court President Štefan Harabin and the General Prosecutor’s Office were made in compliance with the law, Justice Minister Tomáš Borec told journalists on November 12. He was referring to information published by the Sme daily in its November 8 issue on several unusual developments at the court during the adjudicating process, including the decision to take the case away from the panel of judges which had overturned a previous ruling awarding Harabin financial compensation.

Borec stressed that all the changes made by the president of the Bratislava Regional Court to the work schedules of the panels were legitimate and not made to favour any of the disputing parties. The changes were the result of an unequal workload distribution among the judicial panels, Borec explained, as reported by the TASR newswire.

The senate of the Bratislava Regional Court upheld the previous ruling of the lower-instance court requiring the General Prosecutor’s Office to pay €150,000 to Harabin for having confirmed the authenticity of a record of his phone conversation with organised crime boss Baki Sadiki from 1994.

The case began in 2008 after former general prosecutor Dobroslav Trnka publicly confirmed that the transcript of the phone conversation between Harabin and Sadiki had been included in their file. The court opined that Trnka infringed on Harabin’s rights when statements on the matter were made public, Sme wrote.

Regarding the compensation awarded to Harabin, Borec said that he does not support such a high amount. Moreover, in January 2013 an amendment came into effect that reduced the maximum amount of compensation awarded in such cases to 50 times the minimum wage, i.e. €17,000. Yet, since Harabin submitted the complaint prior to the amendment, the judges set the compensation in accordance with the old rules.

Borec promised on November 8 to investigate the changes made to the judicial senates hearing the case. Daniel Lipšic, chair of the New Majority-Agreement (NOVA) movement, called on him to do so earlier that day.

Lipšic said the information about the dubious changes to the judicial panels is mind-bending. He went on to describe the minister’s behaviour as defensive, adding that he does not deal with dubious cases.

“He covers what he could, but he should act when there is suspicion of manipulating the senate,” Lipšic added, as quoted by the SITA newswire, pointing to the fact that the same senate issued the ruling in favour of former Slovak Information Service (SIS) intelligence agency chair Ivan Lexa, who submitted a complaint against former president Michal Kováč. “This is not an accident. The judicial mafia has again arranged which senate and judge will decide in favour of Harabin.”

Regional court President Ľuboš Sádovský considers the information on the senate changes published by Sme to be unacceptable, deceptive and misleading, as reported by SITA.

Source: TASR, SITA, Sme

For more information about this story please see: Strange dealings on judge panel for Harabin case

Compiled by Radka Minarechová from press reports

The Slovak Spectator cannot vouch for the accuracy of the information presented in its Flash News postings.

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