Supreme Court shake-up stirs protests in Poland


Presidential aide Pawel Mucha insisted that Gersdorf was "going into retirement in accordance with the law" and said the court was now headed by Judge Jozef Iwulski, who was chosen by President Andrzej Duda as an interim chief justice.

The crowd chanted "Judges are not removable!" as the court's First President Malgorzata Gersdorf showed up for work, saying that according to the constitution, her six-year term runs through 2020, AP said.

Protests started this week against the new law, mandated by the right-wing ruling party, that cuts the retirement age to 65 from 70 for Poland's Supreme Court justices.

The row over the Supreme Court comes as the European Union launched hearings last week focused on Poland's alleged violation of judicial independence.

According to a nationwide survey carried out last month by Ariadna pollsters, 44 percent of Poles believe the ruling PiS party's judicial reforms will increase political influence on the courts, while just 14 percent of respondents thought otherwise.

"I still hope that the legal order will be restored in Poland", Gersdorf said as she arrived at the court. But EU officials have sharply disagreed, saying Poland willingly signed on to EU rules when it joined the community, and that the courts must be counted on to also uphold EU contracts and law.

Brussels has made clear it opposes the law enforcing the retirement of Supreme Court judges, as they subvert the bloc's democratic standards.

Besides the dismissal of the 27 judges, the National Judiciary Council - which following reforms a year ago is controlled by the ruling party - can also now nominate more than 50 new judges, Buras said.

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The provision affects 27 of the court's 73 judges.

Protests in support of Prof Gersdorf and other defiant judges are expected to take place on Wednesday around the Supreme Court building in the capital, Warsaw. The domestic upheaval as well as concerns by the European Commission prompted authorities to concede to some changes, though the main thrust of the legislation has remained the same. Gersdorf did not, arguing that her term continues, but she is not expecting Duda to share that view. The reform of supreme is in addition to or previous legal modifications with which ultraconservatives, since y reached government in 2015, have guaranteed control of Constitutional Court, attorney General of State or mass media Public.

As previously reported, the EU has threatened Poland to deprive her of the right to vote in the European Parliament in the preservation of the new law.

Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the ruling party leader, said in an interview published Wednesday by the Gazeta Polska daily that the judges' "action" will result in their "shameful disaster".

Polish Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz said the law was binding and "for the time being our stance is that we are right".

European Union ministers held the first-ever Article 7 hearing in Luxembourg on Tuesday (June 26) to determine the state of play in the rule of law dispute between Brussels and Poland.

The European Commission, which polices compliance with EU laws, opened an "infringement procedure" Monday over the Supreme Court law.