New courts bill will speed up administration of justice, Mitsotakis says

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis

The "correct and fast administration of justice is an integral part of liberal democracy," Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has told MPs in the context of a debate on a new Justice Ministry bill, adding that his government wants to see cases "finalized within 600 to 650 days."

Mitsotakis noted that the bill – which calls for the merger of district courts with first-instance courts nationally – will speed up court decisions by nearly 30%.

The premier said that several reforms had been attempted in the past, and his New Democracy party had tried as early as 1999 to introduce the reforms proposed in the current bill.

The delay in court decisions has served to cast doubt on the rule of law or support various conspiracy theories, he added.

Staffing is not the issue, he noted: "We have a lot of judges and a great delay in administering justice. In the first degree, we have two kinds of courts. The result is that 154 district courts become a factor in the uneven distribution of court cases. Forty-four percent of judges are dealing with just 20% of judicial cases. District court judges assume a very low number when the first-instance court judge takes on 300 cases."

Nearly 100 district court judges will be upgraded to first-instance court judged, he noted.

"There was extensive dialogue during the public consultation. Many views were incorporated. I will insist on the developmental and social nature of this reform. Justice that is delayed becomes unfair," he said, then cited the example of the results of the trial over the fire at Mati in 2018 that cost the lives of 104 people and injured scores of others. The sentencing on Monday outraged public opinion, with manslaughter-charged defendants set free with fines.

Mitsotakis also reiterated that Mati resulted in the current government's reestablishment of the civil protection system and putting the emergency 112 number into operation.

The premier also attacked main opposition SYRIZA and leader Stefanos Kasselakis for rejecting everything and "distributing uncosted promises." Just in recent days, he added, "your leader managed to load the state budget with nearly €15 billion a year. Imagine how far the bill will go before the European elections. You are not telling us how many taxes this leads to."

On PASOK leader Nikos Androulakis, Mitsotakis PM accused his party of being stuck in the past even though it wanted to show it was progressive.

In conclusion, Mitsotakis said the bill is another achievement that can be added to the small and large milestones in his party's first term in power and to the institutional initiatives in the second one.

He urged citizens not to allow political toxicity to spread, and to vote in the European Parliament elections on June 9. "Are we prepared to boost Greek demands at the European Parliament, or are we going to send representatives to criticize Greece at every opportunity?" he asked.

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