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September 24, 2021

DNA report: Difficult 2013 due to legal challenges, public pressure

PM Ponta: There should be no power, opposition, presidency, gov’t for anti-corruption prosecutors.

The last year has been difficult for the National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA); it featured organizational and legislative challenges, and public pressure, DNA head Laura Codruta Kovesi declared on Thursday, presenting the institution’s 2013 report. (…)
“It was the year when public pressure on prosecutors had a steep surge. It was encouraging, though, to see an unprecedented reaction of civil society and international observers to this situation,” Kovesi said.
“The consolidation of a prosecutors and police officers corps experienced in carrying out complex investigations, and prepared to withstand unique pressures on the judiciary system is the most outstanding achievement to be highlighted today. Preserving this institutional culture is a vital condition to guarantee the further efficiency of the anticorruption fight,” the DNA head underlined.
Kovesi pointed out that the most important change in 2013 was the Government Emergency Order No. 63, which implemented DNA’s proposal to eliminate of its jurisdiction the investigation of deceit and tax avoidance cases, and crimes under Romania’s Customs Code with prejudice exceeding EUR 1 M.
“The proposal was based on analyses showing that including them in the jurisdiction of this structure would have resulted in an overload with a negative impact on the cases’ dispatch,” Kovesi added.
According to the DNA head, the prosecutors worked in 2013 in more than 7,900 cases; they indicted more than 1,000 defendants, which was one third more than over the previous year. “The 82 prosecutors running criminal investigations in 2013 had to solve 7,900 cases, which is an impressive number, considering the complexity of the cases within the Directorate’s jurisdiction. On the average, each prosecutor investigated nearly 100 criminal cases; this volume is hard to handle. More than 1,000 defendants were brought to court, one third more than over the previous year. 155 individuals were taken into custody, which is not only an increase compared to year 2012, it is also an indicator of the seriousness of the investigated crimes,’ she stated.
Kovesi also pointed out that 270 indictments were formulated, showing the prosecutors’ concern for the priority of solving cases resulting in trials. The DNA head underlined that 6 ministers and members of the parliament were brought to court, as well as 5 chairs and vice chairs of County Councils, 34 mayors and deputy mayors, 25 judges and prosecutors (including two members of the Superior Council of Magistracy), 19 lawyers, 10 managers of national companies, and 22 directors of other public institutions.
Prime Minister Victor Ponta told the anti-corruption prosecutors that there should never be the power, the opposition, the presidency or the government for them when settling the cases. ‘(…) All those who break the law, those who commit corruption deeds, in this particular case, should be held to account before the law. And I think that there should never be the power, the opposition, the presidency, the government, the left or the right for you. There should only be people who obey the law and people who break the law and must be held to account,” the prime minister said on attending a meeting unveiling the 2013 results of the National Anti-Corruption Directorate (DNA).
Ponta added that for him, in his capacity of the head of the executive, any action of the DNA prosecutors by which a civil servant of any rank is found to have violated the law, thus hitting the public interests, represents a great help.
Opinions on the involvement of politics in justice matters were divided. On the one hand, Robert Cazanciuc, Minister of Justice, believes prosecutors are mature and professional and should not be influenced by public statements, be they political or otherwise, while on the other hand, Livia Stanciu, president of ICCJ, said regardless of how strong state institutions are, they could break under constant pressure, stressing that justice officials have often been ‘rewarded’ with harsh criticism for doing their job.
“Basescu, the most corrupt man in the country”
PM Victor Ponta claims that if he were an anticorruption prosecutor, he would investigate President Traian Basescu because he is “the most corrupt man in the country.” When asked by reporters whom he would investigate if he were an anticorruption prosecutor, Ponta replied, “Traian Basescu, of course. Who is the most corrupt man in this country? Traian Basescu, by far. The runner-up is far behind him…” After being told the President had made the same accusation about him, Ponta concluded, “Thieves always cry wolf.”
The Prime Minister also noted people should have absolute faith in the justice system even without “press leaks” and remands in custody that are exceptions.

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