The Constitution was absolutely clear about the length of a judge’s term in office, Justice Minister Stavros Kontonis noted on Thursday, speaking on the radio station ‘Alpha 989’. The minister had been asked to comment on suggestions made by of some senior justices striving to extend their term by two additional years.
“The judges, during the disagreement they may have, reasonable and valid in some points, must not forget their fundamental capacity: which is that they are judges. Also the fact that society endows them with a special trust and, if this trust is disrupted by behaviours or phenomena that are incompatible with their calling, that this will be greatly harmful for the rule of law and a democratic society that is based on the rule of law,” he said.
The minister noted that it was not his place to interfere with the decision to found a new union for senior judges and prosecutors, as all Greeks had the right to form trade unions under the Constitution. This could not be restricted, either by other trade unions or by the state, he said.
He noted, however, that judges must keep in mind that whether delivering justice or involved in trade union activity, they remained judges and had an obligation to protect their role.
The minister also reiterated the government’s determination to fight corruption, which he said was largely responsible for the country’s current crisis. “What we are going through did not just fall out of the sky, it was not our bad luck. It was built up with careful consistency by the system of plutocracy and kleptocracy. Some have gotten rich over these years. Conversely, there were policies that reduced the great majority of the people to despair,” he said.