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Athens News Agency: News in English, 08-03-15

Athens News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Action to tackle delays in justice
  • [02] Local authority unions divided

  • [01] Action to tackle delays in justice

    Addressing the annual general assembly of the Administrative Judges Union on Saturday, Justice Minister Sotiris Hatzigakis said the ministry's priority would be action to tackle delays in the clogged justice system, especially in administrative justice where the problems were particularly acute. He also congratulated judges on what he called an "exemplary self-cleansing" to rid the justice system of corruption, achieved at the initiative of the judiciary themselves.

    "I consider it my duty also to say, as the minister responsible, that the prestige of Justice has now been fully restored, in spite of the occasional mean-spirited and unfair attacks. I would like to praise the morality and contribution of the vast majority of Greek judges, who daily strive to carry about their difficult task," he stressed.

    While noting that the ministry's top priority was to accelerate the speed at which justice was administered, he underlined that justices themselves were not at fault for the delays, which were caused by the state's failure over several years to take measures to deal with accumulated problems, chief among them the delays.

    "The problem is particularly acute in the area of Administrative Justice. Unfortunately, the delay in administering Administrative Justice in many cases borders on a denial of justice. More than 350,000 cases are outstanding at first-instance level, at administrative first-instance courts. Around 30,000 cases are pending at administrative appeals courts," Hatzigakis pointed out.

    He underlined the importance of restoring properly functioning administrative courts, stressing that they were the citizens final line of defence against the abuse of power by the state and protecting individual freedoms.

    The minister also referred to a recent announcement of plans to build new first-instance courts in Attica, saying the present facilities at Evelpidon were patently inadequate for the volume of daily traffic at the capital's courts. Two other issues mentioned and criticised by Hatzigakis were recent attacks on judges by political figures in order to further their party's political agenda and exchanges of lawsuits filed by trade unions and firm managements in the framework of labour disputes. "Neither phenomenon is pleasant. They involve justice without reason in duties that exceed its function. Basically, they involve it in differences that ought to be solved in the framework of the laws, through dialogue carried out in good faith and through the operation of the institutions," he said, stressing that justice could not act as a "punching bag" for political and social conflicts. Hatzigakis particularly attacked what he called the cultivation through rumours and unsubstantiated claims of the impression of pervasive corruption in all areas of public life, from politics to administration and all institutions, and what he called a "crusade of so-called scandals" that were presented without any form of proof. "To this, justice and its functionaries are called to prove what? Usually what is unprovable and nonexistent. I point out, also, that almost none of those making those accusations has come forward to help justice with specific evidence," he stressed. The meeting was also attended by a number of MPs, the justice ministry general secretary and other officials, including Council of State President Georgos Panagiotopoulos. Caption: ANA-MPA file photograph of Justice Minister Sotiris Hatzigakis.

    [02] Local authority unions divided

    Representatives of the two union federations for local authority workers, POE-OTA and POP-OTA emerged from a meeting with Employment Minister Fani Palli-Petralia on Saturday afternoon with quite different evaluations of its results.

    Trade unionists in POP-OTA, which ended strike action on Friday night, said that their decision to call off their ongoing strike was vindicated since Petralia has promised to satisfy their demands during the meeting.

    POE-OTA President Themis Balasopoulos, on the other hand, said that no substantial progress in meeting the union federation's demands had been made during the talks with the minister.

    There will be a meeting of POE-OTA's general council on Sunday afternoon to decide whether to continue the strike by local authority staff, which has led to mounds of rubbish collecting on the streets of Athens and cities all around Greece.

    Caption: Employment and Social Protection Minister Fani Palli-Petralia was present during discussion of the government's bill for social security form by Parliament's Social Affairs Committee on Tuesday, March 11. ANA-MPA - Margarita Kiaou

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