Top court fails to make headway on TV license appeals

15 October 2016
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A second session of the Council of State’s plenary session on Friday, aimed at considering the appeals of television channels against a recent controversial auction of TV licenses, failed to achieve any progress amid growing tensions over the relationship between the judiciary and the government.

Following a session on Wednesday, the country’s highest administrative court convened on Friday for three hours to discuss the appeals.

A total of 30 senior judicial officials, including the president of the court, Nikos Sakellariou, took part in the session, which was marked by frequent tense exchanges, according to sources.

The same sources indicated that judicial officials also clashed over other matters, underscoring the growing divisions within the judiciary about the approach of Greek courts to highly politicized cases.

There was unexpected upheaval from an external source after an anonymous caller telephoned in a bomb threat. The court building was evacuated to allow police to search the premises but no suspicious devices were found.

Earlier this week, the court’s rapporteur proposed that judges reject the appeals by the television channels against the constitutionality of the auction.

According to sources though, only half the court’s judges agree with this recommendation, with the other half believing that there is a basis to the TV channels’ appeals.

Another set of appeals by Greek television channels against the auction are scheduled to be heard by the Council of State on January 13. Some believe this may lead to the current process being postponed until next year.

The atmosphere in the Council of State and other Greek courts is increasingly tense following a bomb attack outside the home in Exarchia, central Athens, of prosecutor Georgia Tsatani late Wednesday.

The guerrilla group Conspiracy of the Cells of Fire claimed responsibility for the blast and warned of more serious attacks to come. “We chose a symbolic hit aiming only for material damages, but in the future, it will not be limited to that,” the group said in a statement on the anti-establishment Athens Indymedia website, adding that it has “memory and patience” and that the attack was a show of solidarity with imprisoned members and jailed “political prisoners.”

Police on Thursday reintroduced two officers to Tsatani’s police guard, reversing a decision for their removal in September, as part of a wider re-evaluation of security given to potential targets.

In the wake of the attack on Tsatani’s home, sources told Kathimerini that two parcel bombs were sent to justice officials over the summer though they did not detonate.

Police believe they were the work of Conspiracy of the Cells of Fire – as was a parcel bomb sent to an investigative magistrate back in 2013.

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