Last night, the Prosecutors’ Department of the Superior Council of Magistracy (CSM) voted the six candidates for chief prosecutors nominated by Premier Victor Ponta after more than nine hours of interviews and debates.
Even if some of the candidates made some uncanny statements, showing a lack of knowledge regarding the judicial procedures, CSM endorsed all the candidates for the chief prosecutor of the National Anti-corruption Department (DNA), chief prosecutor and deputy chief prosecutor of the Department for the Investigation of Organised Crime and Terrorism (DIICOT). The opinions were issued a day sooner than initially announced by CSM and will be sent to the Ministry of Justice tomorrow. CSM’s opinion is purely advisory, the ultimate decision being with the president of the country who may refuse to appoint the designated candidates with justifications.
This is the send attempt to fill the vacant lead prosecution offices, the previous one being initiated last year, when Mona Pivniceru was Minister of Justice. CSM and President Traian Basescu at the time declined Pivniceru’s proposals. The first to present her management project before the members of CSM’s Section for Prosecutors was former attorney general Laura Codruta Kovesi, whom Premier Vitor Ponta proposed at the helm of the DNA while he was interim Justice Minister. During the hearings that lasted 75 minutes Kovesi stated that she wants to set up within the DNA a police structure specializing in financial investigations, in order to identify the assets of prosecuted persons, assets that can be sequestered. At the same time she claimed that if she is appointed head of the DNA she will make a priority out of investigating cases that concern frauds involving European funds and public procurements.
Kovesi also pointed out that she will conduct an analysis of the Directorate’s old files. The former attorney general also added that she wants to implement a mechanism through which the reports on the replay of phone conversations will have a special regime. In her opinion, the DNA’s weak points include insufficient human resources, referring both to vacant leadership positions and to other vacant positions. Asked whether the fact that her former first deputy could become Romania’s attorney general is an advantage or a disadvantage, Kovesi stated that she does not believe that the appointment of Tiberiu Nitu at the helm of the General Prosecutor’s Office will influence her in any way. “I will have the same relation of collegiality, based primarily on respecting the law and respecting the prerogatives that both of us will have, as they are established by law and regulations, and I don’t believe this represents an advantage or disadvantage in what I am going to do,” she said, being quoted by Mediafax. Asked how she will manage the issue concerning the petition that over 90 DNA prosecutors signed, a petition that refers to the procedure that took place in order for the position of head of DNA to be filled in (a petition posted on the institution’s website on April 3, the day in which Ponta revealed his proposals for the leadership of the prosecutor’s offices – editor’s note), Kovesi stated that the petition did not concern her but the persons responsible for the nomination procedure. Moreover, she added that she does not believe the DNA prosecutors have something to reproach her with. “On the contrary, I talked with many of them in time, I supported the DNA’s activity during delicate moments too, I always praised the Directorate’s activity,” the former attorney general stated, expressing her belief that there is no hostile attitude in what concerns her at the DNA. At the end of the hearings Codruta Kovesi underlined that her priorities include extended confiscation, adding that there were many cases of persons condemned for corruption that kept their illegally-obtained assets.
She pointed out that in her management project she insisted a lot on the fact that in case of crimes that cause damages to the state budget the prosecution has to be doubled by a financial investigation too, in order for the money obtained from the crime to be recovered. In what concerns combating frauds involving European funds, another one of her priorities, Kovesi stated that the DNA’s specialized bureau has only two prosecutors and a single prosecutor worked there for one year. The candidate for the DNA’s top position added that another priority will be public procurement crimes. “The European Commission, in the progress reports, monitored the way in which the files that concerned conflicts of interest and public procurements were solved,” Kovesi pointed out. In what concerns the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM), Kovesi stated that the main goal would be to ensure stability and continuity in activity, since in the last seven years the DNA’s activity and the activity of the attorney general have been positively appreciated in country reports.In what concerns her appointment at the helm of the DNA, she pointed out she was consulted about the nomination by persons that have prerogatives in the nomination procedure and she never wanted to hold offices, seeking only to continue working within the system. Asked whether she will consult with former DNA director Daniel Morar, Kovesi answered: “of course, if there are situations that will call for this, I will. Just as I had extremely good relations with all former attorney generals and I organized a meeting with all of Romania’s former attorney generals, if needed I will consult with persons that held leadership positions within the DNA throughout time.”
Hosu’s and Bica’s priorities
Elena Giorgiana Hosu, proposed for the office of deputy of the head of DIICOT, was heard yesterday too.During the hearings Hosu presented her main goals, including the creation of DIICOT’s own judiciary police, similar to the DNA’s. “The permanent goal consists of combating organized crime and terrorism, defending the rule of law, the citizens’ rights and freedoms, in conditions of credibility and fairness, while respecting the internal legislation and the European Convention on Human Rights, signed in Rome, as the primary international law instrument that defends the individual in the face of the state, and also while respecting the European Court’s jurisprudence,” Hosu wrote in her project. Her strategic goals consist of consolidating the capacity of reaction to the criminal phenomenon, maintaining the prosecutors’ and auxiliary staff’s degree of professional and moral integrity, but also a unitary judiciary praxis and maintaining their professional value. Hosu has worked for 17 years as a prosecutor but also has managerial experience. Prior to this, the magistrate received from the CSM, for her activity in 2004, the “very good” grade the moment she was proposed as head of DIICOT’s Bureau of combating economic-financial macro-criminality. Prosecutor Alina Mihaela Bica, proposed as head of DIICOT, presented her priorities too, among them being the creation of an IT system that would avoid the situation of having persons prosecuted for the same crimes by several structures of the Public Ministry. She pointed out that controls will be conducted in order to notice “aspects concerning the accomplishment of a transparent criminal prosecution act that respects the highest professional exigencies and the celerity principle.” Also in order to render the activity of DIICOT branches efficient, Bica proposes analyzing the cases “in relation to their age and complexity, in order to avoid the danger of reaching the prescription deadline.”