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April 15, 2021

Basescu-Ponta tough row over Penal Procedure Code

The President stated that he takes responsibility for the promulgation of the Penal Procedure Code, pointing out that if the Premier does not issue an emergency government ordinance meant to correct the shortcomings of the Code’s Article 140 “he will be the emblem of corruption.”

Traian Basescu stated yesterday at the Presidential Palace that he takes responsibility for the promulgation of the Penal Procedure Code (CPP), this being the President’s responsibility, as well as for the error of having failed to understand the meaning of the Code’s Article 140 on the use of technical surveillance means, “but that doesn’t mean that the error should not be corrected.”
Basescu emphasized that the Presidency’s juridical experts are specialized in Constitutionalism, not penal law. “Just like an emergency government ordinance (OUG) was drafted on October 15 at night, an OUG that Ponta then adopted during the government meeting on October 16 in order to solve the conflict of interest within the Financial Supervisory Authority (ASF), the problem of the CPP can be resolved in a similar manner,” Basescu stated, being quoted by Mediafax.
The President claims that if Premier Victor Ponta does not issue a new OUG meant to correct the shortcomings of Article 140 he will be the emblem of corruption. “He has plenty of other things that have already placed him in the sphere of a corrupt person, given the use of regulatory acts, the plots of land at Braila County Council, the Rompetrol issue, the ASF issue, all these things show him to be a corrupt person, but if he does not urgently bring the changes that have to be brought to this article he will become the shield of corrupt persons and the first one responsible for not having acted when he should have,” the Head of State added.

Prior to making these statements Basescu sent a letter to the Premier, asking him to adopt a Government Emergency Ordinance (OUG) on the new Penal Code and Penal Procedure Code. In the letter that was publicly presented by the government, Basescu points out that he is forced to request the adoption of an emergency ordinance, considering the fact that the government did not adopt such an ordinance during its meeting on Wednesday, the first meeting in which such an ordinance could have been adopted and the last one before the new Codes come into force. The President points out that there is the need for an ordinance that would modify the Penal Procedure Code’s stipulations on the procedure of issuing a technical surveillance warrant.
“I find myself forced to ask you, in line with the Constitution’s Article 80, Paragraph 2, to adopt an emergency ordinance that would ensure a legislative framework that would allow the handling of penal cases through these means of evidence, prior to the start of the prosecution. I point out that in the absence of these modifications there is a significant risk that evidence in penal cases concerning fiscal fraud, corruption, human trafficking, cross border crime, drug trafficking so on and so forth, will become extremely difficult, a fact that would consistently weaken the Romanian state’s capacity to defend the interests of citizens and to fight for the diminishing of the criminal phenomenon,” the letter sent by the Head of State reads.
In his letter of response, Ponta reminds him however that these Codes were adopted by the Boc Government and asks him to publicly take responsibility for the fact that he has promulgated them. The Premier announced that he has asked Justice Minister Robert Cazanciuc to go to the Superior Magistracy Council (CSM) and to discuss possible changes to the Penal Code: “I will be waiting their (the CSM members’ – editor’s note) proposals, but at the same time I want, for the public opinion, to obtain answers to two questions. First of all, is the Penal Code good or bad? Because if it is bad then President Basescu was the one who promulgated it, Prime Minister Boc took responsibility for it and Mr. Predoiu is the one who finalized it. If it is a bad Code, I want us to know who of the three we should punish: Mr. Basescu, Mr. Boc or Mr. Predoiu. If it’s not bad, then again we should know in order to praise them. Two: the Penal Code was adopted in this shape in 2009, five years have passed since. To notice at the last hour, after five years, that something is not good is typically Romanian. (…) It’s not a Code adopted by the government I am heading.” He added that Romania’s obligation to apply this Code starting on February 1 is spelled out in the European Commission’s Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM) on the judiciary too, including in the latest CVM report.
There was the possibility of having a new law concerning the changing of the new Penal Code and Penal Procedure Code discussed yesterday within the CSM, the members of CSM being expected to decide whether this point was about to be introduced on the plenum meeting’s order of the day. The request to have it introduced on the CSM meeting’s order of the day came from Judge Horatius Dumbrava. During the evening, CSM member Oana Schimdt Haineala was reportedly having talks at the government on the issue. Justice Minister Robert Cazanciuc stated, after the CSM meeting, that the draft normative act including the amendments was to be ready last evening or this morning at the latest.
Predoiu: I take responsibility for the whole Code
PDL leader and former Justice Minister Catalin Predoiu wrote on Facebook that he takes responsibility for the whole Penal Procedure Code, pointing out that the law should be postponed. “The Codes are good for Romania. They were drafted by prosecutors and judges. They have to be postponed because Ponta wasted two years and did not prepare the system. I take responsibility for the whole Code. Laws are not adopted without negotiations but Article 140 was not negotiated,” Predoiu wrote on Facebook.

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