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Supreme Court chair to discipline judges of Harabin’s panel

SUPREME Court chair Daniela Švecová on October 1 initiated a disciplinary motion against former members of the court’s Penal College – Štefan Harabin, Viliam Dohňanský and Gabriela Šimonová, Švecová’s spokesman Boris Urbančík informed.

Štefan Harabin(Source: Sme)

The three judges are believed to have committed a severe disciplinary breach by issuing an arbitrary verdict that was at odds with the law. Serving in an appellate panel, their moves resulted in the release of a man described only as Milan M., who was suspected of sex- and violence-related crimes. This wilful move by the panel led to a society-wide threat, Urbančík said, as quoted by the TASR newswire.

Švecová claims that Harabin’s panel should not have concerned itself with the status of first instance court judge in Veľký Krtíš (Banska Bystrica region) Milan Varga and whether or not he should have been excluded from Milan M.’s court proceedings. Švecová proposes Harabin and Dohňanský be relegated to a lower instance court, while Šimonová’s salary should be cut to 50 percent for six months.

It is not possible for a disciplinary motion attempting to punish somebody over their legal opinion to be successful, according to Harabin. “I don’t need to fear anything here – this is only designed to intimidate other judges: “If you don’t judge as we want, you’ll be knocked off via disciplinary proceedings”, which are partly controlled by politicians,” former justice minister, and former Supreme Court and Judicial Council Harabin reacted, as quoted by TASR. “I can only smile – I will never be relegated to a lower-instance court,” he added, as quoted by the SITA newswire. He also said he was looking forward to the disciplinary proceeding where ten former Supreme Court judges will represent him, as well as ten lawyers.

Read also: Read also:Harabin’s panel to be dissolved

Harabin also argued that Varga, who was driving under the influence and sentenced for it (in 2011, in the Czech Republic), thus automatically lost his integrity and no special proceeding to ban him from further holding trials is necessary. Harabin’s opponents argue, however, that in Slovakia, drunk-driving was not a crime then, the Hospodárske noviny daily wrote on October 5. Legal experts opine that he should have filed a motion – but he was not authorised to decide, as one judge alone cannot decide on the status of his colleague.  

Justice Minister Tomáš Borec reacted approvingly to Švecová’s proposal. “All activities from within the judiciary directed towards its cleaning and recovery have my full support,” the minister said, according to TASR. ”This day is another proof that constitutional changes from 2014 were worthwhile.”  

If the disciplinary step is approved, a five-member disciplinary panel can still handle a potential appeal. If it confirms the punishment, the issue can go before the European Court for Human Rights. If guilt is confirmed, the Judicial Council decides on relegating Harabin to a regional court, the daily wrote.  

Topic: Corruption & scandals

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