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Slovakia Constitutional Court finds anti-corruption court unconstitutional

[JURIST] The Constitutional Court of Slovakia [official website] ruled [press release, PDF, in Slovak] Wednesday that the Special Court, established to try corruption and organized crime cases, violates the Slovak Constitution [text, PDF]. The Constitutional Court found that the ability of the National Security Authority (NBU) [official website] to revoke the security clearances of Special Court judges without clear rules rendered the Special Court insufficiently independent of the executive branch, violating the constitution's separation of powers principle. While effectively dissolving the Special Court, the Constitutional Court said that the tribunal's past rulings would remain in effect, including several high profile public corruption and organized crime convictions. The Constitutional Court also found that the compensation paid to Special Court justices was excessive, a major point of contention among the 46 members of parliament who brought the suit. Justice Minister Stefan Harabin [official profile], who has opposed the court since its inception, welcomed [Slovak Spectator report] Wednesday's decision. Prime Minister Robert Fico [official profile, in Slovak] said in a press conference [SITA report, in Slovak] that the decision was "unpleasant for us because we will have a lot of work to [do]," but emphasized that he will respect the decision of the Constitutional Court.

Public corruption and organized crime have been a consistent concern in European Union (EU) member and candidate countries Eastern Europe. In January, European Commission (EC) [official website] President Jose Manuel Barroso [official profile] said that Romania needed to show more results [JURIST report] in its fight against corruption. The EC has express similar concerns [EC report] about Bulgaria, who ascended to the EU at the same time as Romania. Albania's accession to the EU has been hindered by concerns over corruption and the influence of organized crime, such as the February shooting [JURIST report] of an Albanian Supreme Court [official website] judge outside of his home.

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