Commenting on the recent vote of the Senate on the case of former Minister of Economy Varujan Vosganian, Romania’s Prosecutor-general Tiberiu Nitu declared on Friday for Agerpres that he is surprised at the attitude of the Senate to reject the start of prosecution proceedings, remarking that this could be interpreted as a signal of mistrust in the judiciary, which is unacceptable under the rule of law.
In a secret ballot on Thursday the Senators rejected 71 to 57 plus 5 annulled votes the request anticorruption prosecutors referred to the Upper House via Prosecutor-general Tiberiu Nitu to approve the lifting of the immunity of current Senator and former Economy Minister Varujan Vosganian, who faces charges in the Romgaz case.
Prosecutor-general Tiberiu Nitu: A possible sign of mistrust in justice, unacceptable under rule of law
“I am surprised at the Senate’s manner of handling a request of the judicial authority whose task is to establish the judicial truth and the responsibility of each person. I would like to point out that the Senate’s decision not to allow the prosecutors to investigate one of its members for deeds unrelated to the activity of lawmaker occurs just days after the latest CVM report expressed criticism at the cases where Parliament obstructed criminal investigations by refusing to strip the incumbents of immunity. This attitude of the Senate not to pursue, for the second time, a request to lift the immunity of the same Senator may be interpreted as a sign of Parliament mistrust in the judiciary, which is unacceptable under the rule of law in a EU member state,” said the head of the Prosecution Office.
Tiberiu Nitu explained that the Prosecution Office does not seek the endorsement of the prosecution, but notifies the Presidency or Parliament – in this particular case the Senate – informing that a lawmaker is “involved in a judicial matter, and that there are solid indications that he may have perpetrated a crime.”
“The Senate is the body with the constitutional responsibility to request the Prosecution Office to pursue the prosecution. The Senate can request or not the start of the prosecution of a certain Senator. In the latter situation, the lawmaker is practically above the other citizens of the country, meaning that he or she cannot be prosecuted, although there are reasonable suspicions that he or she has committed a crime. Obviously, this case seriously runs counter to Article 16 of the Constitution, which reads “Nobody is above the law’,” said Romania’s Prosecutor-general.
President Iohanis: Parliament going soft with corruption and the corrupt will never enjoy respect of citizens
President Klaus Iohannis calls on the political class to understand that a Parliament that goes soft on corruption and the corrupt will never enjoy the respect and trust of the citizens.
He underscores that the procedures requesting the remand in custody, arrest, or search of lawmakers and those seeking the commencement of criminal prosecution against ministers, ex-ministers or members of Parliament, should be simplified and rendered more transparent.
“I renew my call on our political class to understand that a Parliament that goes soft on corruption and corrupts will never enjoy the citizens’ respect and trust,” the head of state wrote on Friday on his Facebook account.
Justice Minister Cazanciuc: A disappointing vote
Justice Minister Robert Cazanciuc said Friday in Resita that the way in which the senators voted on the request from the Public Prosecution Office to allow the prosecution of senator Varujan Vosganian of the National Liberal Party (PNL) is disappointing, and the vote indicates that the Romanian political parties fail to meet their commitments to European forums.
‘I thought there was a political pact and all the parties had committed themselves to the decision not to block certain investigations at a parliamentary level. Thursday proved that such understanding no longer exists or at least in the case of Vosganian proved it did not exist. It is somehow disappointing that things happened like that. I hope each party will conduct its own analyses to find out what went wrong with the vote, given that there was public commitment from all. It is true that the law allows them to vote one way or another, but politically they pledged something,’ said Cazanciuc.
He added that Romania is under European monitoring and some of its European commitments must be met, but on Thursday the Romanian Senate did not show that; what happened with the Senate vote is not to the benefit of Romania or Parliament overall.
Senator Vosganian resigns from PNL
Senator Varujan Vosganian resigned from the National Liberal Party (PNL).
”As a comradely response to your requests, please hereby receive my resignation from the new PNL,” Vosganian wrote on his blog on Friday, addressing the PNL leadership. Previously, the PNL Co-Chair Alina Gorghiu who was very disappointed by the Senate vote, has stated that Vosganian should resign, otherwise he would be expeleld from the party.