By Evie Andreou
The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ordered the government to pay almost €8,000 in damages plus costs to a former judge who was fired by the Supreme Court in 2006 after being found guilty of disciplinary offences following an allegedly unfair trial.
The court ruled in favour of lawyer Costas Kamenos, who filed a complaint with the ECHR that he had received an unfair trial for disciplinary proceedings brought against him following his appointment as judge and then President of the Industrial Disputes Court (IDC).
Kamenos had complained that he had been charged, tried and convicted by the same judges, in breach of the principle of impartiality. This, according to the ECHR, violated Kamenos’ right to a fair trial as per Article 6, paragraph one of the European Convention on Human Rights.
The Strasbourg-based court ordered the government to pay Kamenos €7,800 for non-pecuniary damage and €10,000 for costs and expenses.
According to the case documents, the Supreme Court had in 2005 launched a probe following a complaint alleging misconduct of Kamenos in the exercise of his judicial functions. The Supreme Court had appointed an investigating judge to look into the allegations, who had submitted a report along with statements he had collected from witnesses and Kamenos.
“The Supreme Court then framed charges of misconduct against Mr Kamenos and called him to appear before the Supreme Council of Judicature (SCJ), which has exclusive competence for the dismissal of judges and disciplinary matters,” the ECHR said.
But during these proceedings, according to Kamenos, the Supreme Court and the SCJ had the same composition, “meaning that the same judges had examined the witness statements against him, had decided to refer the case to trial, had formulated the charges against him and, acting as prosecutors, had tried the case”.
In September 2006 the SCJ ultimately found that the charges had been proved and removed Kamenos from office. “The SCJ’s decision was final”.
Kamenos then filed a case with the ECHR and asked pecuniary damage between €601,800 and €959,900 citing loss of income and the retirement benefits he would have been entitled to if he had served as President of the IDC until retirement at the age of 63 in June 2012. The court dismissed his pecuniary damage claim.
He had also claimed €250,000 as non-pecuniary damage maintaining that he had been a well-known and respectful judge and had suffered damage to his honour and reputation.