Criminal Code modifications ruled unconstitutional

The changes to the Criminal Code passed by the Chamber of Deputies on 10 December 2013, which sparked tough reactions of rejection both at home and abroad, were declared unconstitutional Wednesday by the Constitutional Court of Romania (CCR).
The modifications, which excluded the members of the Parliament and the president of Romania from the category of civil servants and would have granted the so-called “super immunity” to MPs through the article on the conflict of interests, were vehemently opposed by President Traian Basescu, who called them “dramatic” and “demolishing 10 years of work and activity of anti-corruption institutions” like DNA or ANI.
Basescu’s reaction was not singular. The National Anticorruption Directorate said that, following the changes, the parliamentarians indicted for acts or corruption or assimilated to this crime might be acquitted and those in detention following definitive sentences might be set free. In his turn, the president of the National Integrity Agency, Horia Georgescu said that, following the modifications, “a super-immunity” will be created and the “history of cases of ANI will be blown up in the case of 25 senators and deputies.”
CSM, too, criticised the changes brought to the Criminal Code, saying that it could not give its opinion on them, as provided by law. The Law Committee of the Chamber of Deputies however announced that it did not have the obligation to seek the opinion of CSM.
The embassies of the United States, Netherlands, Germany and the British ambassador, Martin Harris, as well as the representatives of some NGOs criticised the amendments brought to the Criminal Code by deputies.
The decisi9on made Wednesday by CCR follows an analysis made at the request of the High Court of Cassation and Justice which mentions that, following the modifications, appreciated as incompatible with the rule of law, one might conclude that certain persons are “above the law” and cannot be punished for acts of corruption.
The Liberal Democrat Party (PDL), the main opposition party, sent to CCR on December 12 two complaints regarding the changes to the Criminal Code, one referring to the definition of the statute of civil servants and the other about the notion of conflict of interests. PDL leader Vasile Blaga said that the draft modifications were not approved by the Superior Council of Magistracy CSM, which is mandatory if they refer to the activity of judiciary institutions. He added that USL, instead of trying to create jobs for Romanians, tries to “create super immunity for their MPs, take their friends out of prison, defend those who are still in justice.”

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