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Prosecutor Oana Schmidt Haineala is, as of Friday, the new CSM President. The candidates for Vice-President of the institution were Alina Ghica and Cristian Danilet, but the election was postponed until this week because of lack of quorum.
Prosecutor Oana Schmidt Haineala was elected as President of the Council at the end of last week, after a stormy day full of controversy. So far Vice-President of the Council, Haineala was elected with ten votes in favour. The other candidates, Judge Mircea Aron, received eight votes. Haineala is the first prosecutor who becomes the head of CSM, and that seems to have displeased the CSM Department for Judges who, Friday night, demanded the cancellation of the election of the CSM president. Judge Horatius Dumbrava said an obvious institutional blockage had been produced, reason for which the entire procedure had to be resumed. Judge Mircea Aron said ‘an endless tandem’ of Oana Schmidt Haineala and Alina Ghica, the former President of the institution who introduced her candidacy for Vice President in the last minute, would be inappropriate. The motion for the revocation of the decision investing Haineala as President of the Council was eventually declined by the CSM members with 11 votes against and seven in favour. At the same time, the election of the CSM vice president for which judges Alina Ghica and Cristian Danilet had submitted their candidacy was postponed to this week, after the Friday session had to be suspended because of lack of quorum. Alina Ghica could not obtain the number of votes required in order to become Vice President of the Council. She only got eight of the ten votes required, as several magistrates were missing from the hall. Alina Ghica’s decision to run for Vice President of CSM was denounced by some of her colleagues.
Judge Horatius Dumbrava left the meeting, saying was unacceptable for a candidate to submit her management project 40 minutes before the formal presentation. Dumbrava was followed by three other members of CSM: Adrian Neacsu, Alexandru Serban and Marius Tudose. The four CSM members were missing from the meeting hall both during Alina Ghica’s hearing and during the vote on the vice president position. Last year, Ghica and Haineala submitted a joint project but, during the year, it became clear that the Vice President, prosecutor Haineala, was more in charge than President Ghica. Mediafax quotes magistracy sources as saying that the two magistrates were planning a rotation for this year, with Haineala as President and Ghica as Vice President.
War better than non-independent justice, Basescu says
Present at the CSM meeting, President Traian Basescu said no one would negotiate the independence of the judiciary ‘for the sake of political peace’, and added: ‘a war is preferable than a non-independent justice’. According to the president, today, in Romania, a magistrate is not independent only if he or she chooses not to be. Basescu pointed out that the independence of justice was not an irreversible process, but that Romania had no chance to go forward is its justice is not independent. ‘The fact that, during a time of extraordinary political turbulence – July-August 2012 – the main institutions of the state stood up gives me the satisfaction that something has happened in the justice system and that something means independence of the judiciary,’ the president said, according to Mediafax. On the other hand, Basescu said the 2012 attacks by media trusts on Constitutional Court, High Court, Office of the Prosecutor General or National Anti-corruption Directorate magistrates confirmed the assertion in the national security strategy proposed in 2010, according to which some media trusts represented a vulnerable spot. He also stressed that the 2012 attacks had been ‘the most dramatically negative development in the last years and steps back taken by those who claim to be the forth power in the state.’In the context, the president noted that, together with the Ministry of Justice, a solution should be found in order to provide protection to the judiciary. In his opinion, such press trust attacks were meant ‘to spread distrust to the entire system’: ‘No Mafia-like group needs a strong justice system. As a matter of fact, that is its biggest fear: having a powerful or a credible justice system’.
‘CVM report end of January to slam Parliament’
Traian Basescu said the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM) report the European Commission would issue at the end of January would sanction the Parliament for those situations where it had been ‘abusive’ in respect of allowing the criminal investigation of certain MPs. ‘This seems to be our vulnerable spot, the understanding of how justice operates also for politicians,’ said the president. He also noted that MPs should not stop prosecutors’ investigations and bringing politicians to justice. We remind that, during the consultations with political parties at Cotroceni, mid-December, Basescu said a new EC expert mission was going to visit us on January 11, 2013, to finalise the CVM report and said that ‘the parliamentary backlog’ would have to be resolved until then.
Under the Constitution, CSM should propose to me the prosecutor general and DNA chief prosecutor
On Friday, the president told the judges that, under article 134 of the Constitution, CSM was supposed to propose candidates for the offices of prosecutor general and chief prosecutor of DNA and asked the Council to send him its position in the matter. ‘I would like to know your position in the next few days. I do not have a deadline,’ Basescu said, adding he was not going to rush into either rejecting or accepting the two existing proposals (Ioan Irimie, nominated as DNA Chief Prosecutor and Tiberiu Nitu, nominated as Prosecutor General) received from Justice Minister Mona Pivniceru at the end of December. Article 134 of the Constitution, on the CSM powers, stipulates at paragraph (1) that the Council ‘proposes to the President of Romania the appointment to office of judges and prosecutors, with the exception of interns, under the law’. We remind that, on November 22, the two proposals received a negative opinion from the CSM Prosecutors Department. However, the CSM opinion is a consultative one, has to be motivated and then sent to the president who appoints the two officials to office.On the other hand, Basescu has asked the new CSM leaders to stick to the timetable for the introduction of the new Codes and, should any delays be deemed necessary following the analysis, they should be established in advance. The president also said that, in 2013, solutions would need to be found for expediting the passage and editing of court judgements, nonetheless recognising the visible progress made in the last two years in that department. The president also said he was happy with the most recent 2012 Transparency International report on the perception of corruption where Romania had jumped 7-8 places up, being ranked ahead of older EU member states. Traian Basescu wished the magistrates an even better year from that point of view in 2013, adding that, to him, justice is ‘the pillar of social equity and engine of our positive evolution’.