DNA Chief Prosecutor Laura Codruta Kovesi on amendment of wiretapping legislation: “Solving the cases will be greatly delayed”

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National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA) Chief Prosecutor Laura Codruta Kovesi stated that the institution she leads will continue the fight against criminals despite the hardships encountered because of the amending of the wiretapping legislation. In an interview for TVR1 on Tuesday evening, Kovesi talked about the Constitutional Court’s (CCR) decision on Romanian Intelligence Service (SRI) wiretappings, stating that the emergency ordinance adopted by the Government last Friday “is a temporary solution through which both we, the DNA, and the other institutions will respect what the CCR decided.”

“Through this decision, starting today we changed the way permits that allow technical surveillance are enforced,” Kovesi stated, adding that “no SRI officer will be able to take part in the enforcing of warrants.”

The DNA Chief Prosecutor pointed out that in the files concluded last year there are 357 closing arguments and technical surveillance measures were not used in more than half of them, more precisely in 52 percent of them.

Kovesi explained that technical surveillance means both “tapping of conversations made by phone or by other means, such as a personal computer,” as well as recordings made in a private or public area.

 

“CCR decisions are enforced for the future, not for the past”

 

Asked whether it is possible for a high-level case to be jeopardized in case defendants challenge the wiretapping carried out as part of it, Kovesi said that no case is based exclusively on this kind of evidence.

“From the start, we rule out 52 per cent of the cases, because the decision does not apply [to them]. The rest remain. (…) The effects of the CCR decision will not be seen today, or tomorrow, or the day after tomorrow, it’s important to remind some essential principles of the judiciary system. CCR decisions are applied for the future, not the past. Within the DNA, all cases are based on various types of evidence, we do not have cases based solely on wiretapping. In a great number of cases we have situations discussed by the defendants… they admitted in the statements they made before the court,” Kovesi explained.

The magistrate emphasised that “there is nevertheless agitation” in what concerns certain aspects of the CCR explanation, referring to paragraph 52: “The decision is enforced on court cases that are pending – this “pending” may generate a certain problem in interpretation, may generate a lot of questions. There is the preliminary trial, the trial on the merits or the appeal… Once they (the cases – editor’s note) go beyond the preliminary chamber, this exception could not be successfully invoked, but it depends on the judges. Still, I have confidence in Romanian judges that they will decide so that there should be no problems. Because the legality of a piece of evidence is analyzed within the preliminary chamber,” Kovesi detailed.

 

“Anyone who believes this decision will stop the DNA is sorely mistaken”

 

The Chief Prosecutor pointed out that at this moment the DNA’s technical service has 20 judicial police officers and the Government has promised another 40.

“They are very few, they will have to ensure the enforcement of these measures for the whole country, we have 14 territorial services. (…) There are case files of 100, 200 volumes, but also of 3-4 volumes, the solving of cases will be greatly delayed until we have sufficient material and human resources in order to continue our activity at maximum capacity,” Laura Codruta Kovesi said.

She stated that one of the priorities of the current and future terms at the helm of DNA is the development of the technical service, but the most important thing is “for the DNA to continue its activity, let’s not forget how serious the corruption phenomenon is, which affects citizens every day and which kills.”

“Anyone who believes this decision will stop the DNA is sorely mistaken. I am convinced that in the following months the human and material resources will be found in order for us to operate at full capacity,” Kovesi assured.