OGH Vice President Eva Marek will no longer perform any management or other tasks in the administration of justice, the OGH announced on Tuesday. The chats are likely to jeopardize the population’s trust in the independence of the judiciary, according to the reasoning of the Supreme Court in a press release.
The online portal “ZackZack”, operated by Peter Pilz, published chats last Wednesday that suggest that the appointment to the head of the Vienna Public Prosecutor’s Office in 2014 could have been motivated by party politics. At the time, Minister of Justice Wolfgang Brandstetter (ÖVP) did not choose the candidate ranked first by the Personnel Commission because – according to the portal – his party did not like it, but Marek, who had only applied at the last minute. Brandstetter justified his decision by saying that the real favourite, Ilse Maria Vrabl-Sanda, was “indispensable” as head of the economic and corruption prosecutor’s office.
In return for her application, Marek is said to have expected to be rewarded with the management of the general procuratorate two years later. Because she didn’t get a chance there, she is said to have later written angrily to Brandstetter: “Thank you for the embarrassing performance in Perskomm. THANK YOU for keeping up with our conversations and for allowing me to help you out of a hopeless situation. SPEAK (Maria- Luisa) Nittel and Vrabl had to be prevented.” After her station at the senior public prosecutor’s office, Marek became OGH Vice President on February 1, 2018.
OGH President Elisabeth Lovrek had already announced “consequences” for Marek on Saturday. A press release from the OGH on Tuesday now states that the Supreme Court has “no knowledge” of the circumstances that led to the publication (of the chats, note) and can therefore not judge their legality. “Regardless of this, however, the chats are likely to jeopardize the population’s trust in the independence of the judiciary.” This trust is “an indispensable prerequisite” for the functioning of the rule of law.
“The President of the Supreme Court, Dr. Elisabeth Lovrek, in agreement with Mag. Marek, has therefore ordered that she will no longer exercise any management or other tasks in the administration of justice in the Supreme Court,” according to the OGH. The Vice President of the Supreme Court, Matthias Neumayr, will take over Marek’s agenda.
The OGH also attaches importance to the statement “that although its judges are appointed by the Federal President at the suggestion of the Minister of Justice, the transparency of the appointment process is usually guaranteed by three-person proposals from the staff senate of the Supreme Court”. Although the appointing bodies are not bound by the Senate’s proposals, they have “followed them without exception” when filling positions at the Supreme Court in recent decades.
The Supreme Court also referred to the demand it had made last Saturday to also provide a Senate proposal for the posts of Supreme Court Presidents and Vice-Presidents – so far, they have been appointed “solely by political bodies”. “The Supreme Court is convinced that the implementation of this proposal would not only be in the interest of all parties involved, but would also benefit the rule of law, because of the transparency it guarantees,” the press release says.