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Justice Minister Mona Pivniceru has informed Parliament that she will resume the procedure of nominating candidates for the offices of chief prosecutors.
Premier Victor Ponta stated yesterday that the letter President Traian Basescu sent to him and Speaker of the Senate Crin Antonescu on the issue of speeding-up the appointment of chief prosecutors is part of “a ping-pong game.” Ponta pointed out that neither he nor Speaker of the Senate Crin Antonescu can speed-up the appointment of the attorney general and the head of the DNA since they are not legally allowed to do that. “Schengen is one thing, the chief prosecutors are an entirely different thing. The minister followed the procedure, the President refused them and now he’s asking us, as if I was the one that refused them. The President refused them. That’s why I’m saying it’s a game, let’s call it a ping-pong game, because I am good at ping-pong not at poker,” Ponta said.
He reminded that his proposal was for all the main officials in Romania (the President, the Premier, the Speakers of the two Chambers) to adopt a joint position on the Schengen issued, but Traian Basescu refused to do so. Ponta reproached President Basescu several times with the fact that he is trying to link the Schengen accession to the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM).
On Sunday evening Ponta stated on RTV that President Traian Basescu asked him for the attorney general and the head of the DNA to be appointed in office by March 3 in order for the delay not to harm Romania’s Schengen accession chances. The Head of Government added however that he cannot agree with the Schengen accession being conditioned by the CVM, that the previous proposals were rejected by the Head of State and that it is not possible to make the appointments so fast, the President probably wanting to raise the stakes like in poker through the new letter.
PNL President Crin Antonescu was the first one that publicly stated on Saturday that Traian Basescu wrote to him and Ponta about the appointment of the chief prosecutors, threatening them that they will be guilty for the failure of Romania’s Schengen accession bid unless the chief prosecutors are rapidly appointed in office. Antonescu accused Basescu of ignoring that neither he nor Ponta have any prerogatives in this issue. PDL MEP Cristian Preda writes on his blog that it would be good for President Traian Basescu to make the letter public.
Pivniceru resumes procedures to nominate chief prosecutors
In a letter sent to Parliament on February 20, Justice Minister Mona Pivniceru spells out the government’s commitments following the CVM report, showing that she will resume, in the shortest of time, the procedure to nominate the candidates for the offices of chief prosecutors, seeking to have a selection pool as wide as possible.
In a second letter to Parliament, Pivniceru asks for a synthesis on the progress registered in the fight against corruption. The Lower Chamber’s Permanent Bureau decided yesterday that the chairmen of the statute and juridical commissions and Deputy Speaker Viorel Hrebenciuc will present next week a point of view on the Parliament’s position on the fulfillment of the requirements included in the CVM report.
According to the commitments that the Romanian government took as part of the CVM, the Justice Minister will start in the following period a new procedure for the selection of candidates for the offices of attorney general and chief prosecutor of the National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA).
The Justice Minister asked the prosecutors that are part of the Public Ministry’s leadership to give her, by February 25, the names of candidates for the office of attorney general, chief prosecutor of the DNA and chief prosecutor of the Directorate for Investigating Organized Crime and Terrorism (DIICOT).
According to Justice Ministry sources quoted by Hotnews.ro, the Justice Ministry received a series of proposals from the heads of prosecutor’s offices, however she will not reveal the names because it is not known whether the nominated prosecutors will accept to run for the office of chief prosecutor of the DNA.
According to the aforementioned sources, the Justice Ministry’s next step will be to start the old selection procedure through which prosecutors are asked to file their candidacies. The only difference compared to the old procedure would be the publishing of interviews taking place at the Justice Ministry, on the Superior Magistracy Council’s model.
The Justice Ministry’s first attempt to propose candidates for the offices of chief prosecutors ended in failure. President Traian Basescu rejected on January 18 the appointment of Tiberiu Nitu at the helm of the General Prosecutor’s Office and of Ioan Irimie at the helm of the DNA. The two were proposed by the Justice Minister but received a red light from CSM plenum.