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August 8, 2022

Constitutional Court marred by scandal

Aspazia Cojocaru threatens to sue fellow judge Ion Predescu and threatens journalists who dug up her Securitate past.

There were tensions at the Constitutional Court (CC) where the nine-judge panel met yesterday morning in order to read the ruling reached on Tuesday to invalidate the July 29 impeachment referendum. Judge Aspazia Cojocaru and Ion Predescu had a heated exchange in front of the cameras, Predescu claiming that the referendum should have been validated since the voters that cast their ballots represent more than half of total registered voters, and Cojocaru threatening to sue him if it is proven that he “broke the secrecy of Tuesday’s vote.” “In relation to the country’s population, by applying 18.3 per cent which represents the number of under-age persons you are left with 17 million. Out of the 17 million, by subtracting those that live and have the legal residence abroad you are left with 14.5 million. These are exact, mathematical figures that determined me to have the point of view I voted for,” Predescu stated. He pointed out that some of the members of the Court, including Aspazia Cojocaru, did not take into account the figures that the government sent to the Court. In what concerns Aspazia Cojocaru’s vote, he said: “They did not stake on the figures presented by the government. The figures are clear, precise,” Predescu pointed out.
Annoyed by the fact that Predescu stated on Tuesday for ‘Gandul’ daily, immediately after the CC made its ruling, that she “tipped the scales in favor of Basescu,” judge Aspazia Cojocaru claims she will sue Predescu. “He says he did not make any statement. (…) I don’t know whether he apologized or not, but he keeps denying. (…) If there is such a recording please believe me I will go all the way,” Cojocaru stated. Moreover, she said that Predescu broke the secrecy of the vote when making that statement. At the same time, Cojocaru pointed out she did not end up being a Court member at the proposal of a party, that she was not a PSD member and she was voted in Parliament by each Parliamentary group, by PSD, PNL and PD alike. Moreover, Cojocaru launched a violent attack against Premier Ponta, pointing out that she is a magistrate, not a politician that obeys party orders. “I respect the laws, which I am familiar with, unlike the kids (referring to Ponta and Antonescu – editor’s note) that criticize me on TV,” the judge stated, being quoted by realitatea.net.
Asked whether she considers that the judges who voted to validate the referendum broke the law, Cojocaru answered: “I don’t know, ask them. Those who are so well-educated that they did not hear of jail probably heard of something else since childhood.”

PM Victor Ponta stated on Tuesday, referring to the fear of jail that Cojocaru invoked, that he does not use the term “jail” since he has a different education.
On the other hand, Cojocaru denied having said at the end of an August 2 meeting that the impeachment referendum should be canceled, pointing out that “everything was based on false data.” “I never said that the referendum should be canceled. (…) What I said was that some of the data we were given were correct and some weren’t,” the judge pointed out. Despite her denial, there is footage with her saying exactly that.
In what concerns journalist Mihai Gadea’s claims that she collaborated with the Securitate, the judge presented yesterday a SoJust communiqué dated 2009 which announces that the court ruling that established that Aspazia Cojocaru did not collaborate with the Securitate will not be attacked. On Tuesday evening Antena 3 presented an episode dating from the spring of 2007, back when PSD President Mircea Geoana stated, after the CC issued a negative note on the Parliament’s proposal to suspend the Head of State, that Traian Basescu asked the Romanian Intelligence Service (SRI) for data on the members of the CC. Back then Geoana stated that the CC judges are blackmailed and presented two notes that SRI First Deputy Director Florian Coldea wrote about the files of three judges – Aspazia Cojocaru, Nicolae Cochinescu and Ion Predescu. In reply, the SRI Director stated that no person or institution asked SRI to run background checks on the CC judges and that no notes were sent on this issue. Antena3 on Tuesday evening presented an authentic document issued by the Council of the Study of Communist Archives (CNSAS) that ruled Aspazia Cojocaru collaborated with the Political Police under the name “Ana”.
Zegrean doesn’t care about Venice Commission recommendations­
CC President Augustin Zegrean yesterday said that, as far as the   referendum is concerned, the quorum is the validation condition set since as early as year 2000, and added that 14 EU state assimilated this condition. When a journalist remarked that the Venice Commission does not recommend a threshold turnout, Zegrean said that was “their business”. Given the CC has often called on the Code of good Practice of the Venice Commission as grounds for judges’ decisions, the CC president replied: “So, what does it mean? What should I do, cancel it? I don’t make laws, it is not us who make the laws, it is in the law, you understand, in the law since 2000. Therefore, it is not us who changed the law, we cannot change the law, it is Parliament who makes laws”.
Asked whether there could be raised questions about the figures taken into account by the Court to reach Tuesday’s decision, as long as government data were not used, he said he has no doubts since that was the figure officially communicated by the Central Electoral Bureau (BEC). The CC head was also asked about his view on Premier Victor Ponta’s opinion that a decision could have been reached three weeks ago, and the stake of the delay was to persuade a judge to vote in favor of the referendum invalidation, Zegrean had this to say: “It’s his opinion, I won’t get into arguments with politicians.”

Cabinet did not send what the Court demanded, the motivation shows

According to the Court’s motivation, published in exclusivity by Antena 3, the Court says the data sent (by the government) is not related to the request made by the Court. “The letter received from the government does not answer the request of communicating the number of people present on the permanent electoral lists, updated (by 10 July 2012), but instead presents a series of data concerning various categories of people,” reads the CC justification.
“The number of people whose ID documents are no longer valid has nothing to do with this demand, because simply having an invalid identity documents does not determine the elimination of the respective people from the permanent electoral lists. The Court accepts that exerting the right to vote depends on having a valid identity document, but the existence of this right does not.
“The only number which, according to the data communicated by the government, can be taken into consideration when updating the permanent electoral lists is 34,654 people.” “What the Court may acknowledge, according to its competency, is only if the difference of data that was transmitted can result in meeting or not meeting the turnout quorum, respectively if it can modify the result of the referendum. Or, by comparing the data communicated by the BEC, respectively the government, it is obvious that such a situation does not exist.”

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