Predoiu: Magistrates signal willingness to give up protests

Justice Minister Catalin Predoiu said yesterday after a videoconference with heads of courts and prosecutor’s office that magistrates are ready to be reasonable and abandon protests if the government has an appropriate response. Predoiu added that the Justice Ministry focuses on obtaining an adequate response from the ministries of Finance and Labour. “Our objective is to maintain a statute for magistrates who would correspond to their constitutional position,” the minister added.

Talks between Predoiu and heads of courts and prosecutor’s offices came after five days of continued protests by magistrates, which spread to about 80 per cent of all courts across the country and were joined by prosecutors from the Organised Crime and Terrorism Investigation Department. Magistrates thus refused to try any cases, except urgent arrest warrants and cases involving children, and threatened to refuse being appointed on electoral bureaus for the upcoming presidential elections.

Their protest was mainly triggered by the unitary salary law the government plans to face a confidence vote in Parliament for, as magistrates charge that this law would significantly lower their incomes.

Following yesterday’s videoconference, magistrates said that although no decision had been made, they felt for the first time that they were listened and understood. The vice president of the Bucharest City Court, Laura Andrei, said the minister promised that the government would try to find solutions to unblock the legal system.

Andrei added that magistrates’ demands were neither accepted nor rejected and that the Justice Minister listened to all the problems judges face, which include understaffing and poor financing of the legal system. The court’s vice-president added that magistrates are now waiting to receive an official written response and solutions from the government.

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