Greek judges hit back at Commission over ‘intervention’ in their affairs

Greek judges responded to the Commission's 'concerns'. [Shutterstock]

Greece’s judicial authorities will not treat differently citizens whose work is related to the services of the European Commission, judges said on Thursday (3 August) in a statement.

The Union of Judges and Prosecutors (SAD) reacted strongly to some views expressed by the European Commission in the case of the former chief of Greece’s statistics office (Elstat).

Elstat’s former chief, Andreas Georgiou, was convicted on Tuesday (1 August) for a “breach of duty”, after having failed to tell the statistics agency’s board that he had sent Greek fiscal data for 2009 to its European counterpart, Eurostat.

According to the prosecutor, that means the decision to assess the revised 2009 deficit figures was made without the agreement of the other members of the board.

He was found guilty by an appeals court and handed a two-year suspended sentence.

Prosecutor says Greece's former statistics boss is guilty

A prosecutor said on Monday (31 July) that the former head of Greece’s statistical office was found guilty as he did not consult fellow board members about the much-discussed revised 2009 deficit figures. The prosecutor also said he was an employee of the IMF at the same time.

The decision prompted the reaction from the European Commission, which said it was concerned about the developments.

Particularly, Commission spokesperson Annika Breidthardt stressed that the most important thing for the executive was that “Elstat’s independence is protected by law and that the people working there are protected by law”.

“That is why we are watching these developments with concern,” she added.

The EU executive also stressed that the case would be discussed at the next Eurogroup meeting.

All equal before the law

SAD highlighted that last August, it issued a statement about the “unacceptable” intervention of the European Commission in the case, which was then open, of the former Elstat leader.

Referring to the Commission’s concerns, Greek judges insisted that “the Greek judicial authorities and laws must treat all citizens equally and it does not matter at all whether some of them have a special relationship with services belonging to the European Commission”.

They added that the independence of statistical offices in the member states might be a key pillar of the Economic and Monetary Union according to the Commission, but the independence and impartiality of judges and prosecutors of a country are the “cornerstone of the democratic regime”.

Criminal case against Greek statistics chief raises eyebrows in Brussels

A European Commission spokesperson told EURACTIV.com that the executive is closely monitoring a criminal case against Greece’s former head of statistical services.

Contacted by EURACTIV, a European Commission spokesperson declined to comment on the Greek judges’ statement but stressed, “The ruling is open for appeal, so the final word is not yet spoken.”

 

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