SME: Harabin: Diplomats buy the judges through small gifts

Bratislava. Stefan Harabin, President of the Supreme Court has suspicion- it is said, that the western ambassadors corrupt dissatisfied judges. Diplomats visited disciplinary procedures with these judges. “I do not meet foreign ambassadors before Christmas and I do not accept their small gifts. This also should be mentioned in relation to those judges, if this could be corruption, political or other, “ Harabin said. He repeated that diplomats interfered internal affairs in Slovakia. “Definitely no Slovak ambassador would visit any disciplinary procedure with a judge in Austria, who released Fritzl free from custody.“

The attack of 21 judges, founders of the initiative For Open Judiciary, against Harabin is proved by the minutes of the May meeting of the Judicial Council. Also Bjorn Solbakken, head of the European Association of Judges and Gunter Woratsch, Honorary President of the International Association of Judges.


Embassies denied small gifts
“The statement of Mr. Harabin has nothing common with the British embassy,“ reacted Andrew Pittam, political secretary of the British embassy. He added that they will continue to follow what is going on in judiciary.
Austrian embassy did not comment Harabin´s words.
“Cited statements are not true and they are not worthy the position of the President of the Supreme Court and the chairman of the Judicial Council,“ Katarina Javorcikova from the initiative For Open Judiciary said. According to her judges met with diplomats only in disputable disciplinary procedures.
“High remuneration for selected judges, Mr. Harabin decided at the end of last year can be considered a form of state corruption,“ Javorcikova declares. Also judge Miroslav Gavalec indicated that Harabin´s words are untrue.

As in Russia
Solbakken and Woratsch, representatives of the international organisations, were in Slovakia interested in disciplinary procedures and also in strong powers of Harabin. According to Woratsch, it does not happen in Europe that a former minister becomes head of the Supreme Court as Harabin did. “It happened in Russia and in Ukraine, but definitely not in western Europe,“ Woratsch said.
Also Viera Petrikova, current Minister for HZDS headed to the Supreme Court. Her temporary position was at the agenda of the Judicial Council. Former Harabin´s schoolmate was in position of the chairman of the District Court in Vranov nad Toplou. She was appointed to that position by Harabin. The Ministry refused the route of Petrikova to the Supreme Court and her possible resignation before elections. The Ministry did not mention what the visit of the foreign experts would mean for our judiciary. As the minutes state, Harabin at the end of the meeting invited both guests to lunch and he gave them a small gift.


How the Government fulfils the promise to improve enforcement of law
What they promised:
In interest of the efficient fight against corruption the Government of the Slovak Republic would take measures to adopt legislative and technical conditions needed for shortening the time from disclosure, explanation an illegal action to penalisation.
Source: Programme Declaration of the Government, August 2006

What do experts think about?
Possible fulfilment of this promise would be positive. Improved quality in judiciary belongs to the most important priorities in Slovakia.

What is the reality? The promise is mostly not met. Average duration of court procedures compared to previous election period does not decrease, except of civil law disputes. Enforceability of law was negatively influenced by abolishing the Special Court in May 2009. Worse situation in judiciary is documented also by the petition “Five Sentences“ that was in October 2009 signed by more than one hundred judges.

Article from daily SME, 20 April 2010


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