The vote in Parliament on Wednesday by which DNA’s request to be allowed to detain and arrest PSD Senator Dan Sova was rejected has caused a wave of reactions both in the country and internationally. The senator was saved from prison by his colleagues on Wednesday for accusations of complicity to abuse of office in the case concerning contracts between his law firm and the energy complexes of Turceni and Rovinari.
President Klaus Iohannis on Thursday notified the Constitutional Court of Romania (CCR) after the Senate had declined DNA’s request to arrest Dan Sova. The head of state asks CCR to solve ‘a legal conflict of constitutional nature arising between the judicial authority, represented in the case by the Public Ministry – the Prosecutor’s Office of the High Court of Cassation and Justice and the Superior Council of Magistrates, on the one hand, and the Parliament of Romania – the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate, on the other hand, generated by the omission of the two Chambers of the Parliament to put in agreement the stipulations of Section 24 (4) of Law No. 96 (2006) on the statute of deputies and senators, republished, and those of Section 173 of the Senate Regulation with those of Section 76 paragraph (2) in the Constitution, republished’, reads the president’s notification.
The president’s argument is that the same legal norms were construed differently, that leading to the arrest of a member of Parliament in one case (Darius Valcov) and not to arrest in another case (Dan Sova).
Laura Codruta Kovesi believes the Constitutional Court of Romania must be notified
The Chief-Prosecutor of the National Anti-corruption Directorate (DNA), Laura Codruta Kovesi wrote to the Superior Council of Magistracy (CSM) on Thursday, asking it to notify the Constitutional Court of Romania (CCR) to solve the constitutional conflict created between powers of the state following the fact that the Senate refused to grant the prosecutors’ request to detain and arrest PSD Senator Dan Sova, according to DNA’s press statement.
‘Laura Codruta Kovesi believes the Constitutional Court of Romania must be notified and requested to settle the constitutional conflict between the powers of the state, following the refusal of the Senate to grant the prosecutors’ request’, the press release states.
CSM: ‘Respecting the independence of judicial authorities is an indispensable condition for a stable democracy’
The Superior Council of Magistracy expresses its concern about the recent situations which occurred in Romania’s Parliament by which the act of justice has been blocked or hampered, on Thursday said this body’s deputy-chairman, Bogdan Gabor. He specified that this is the CSM official position, as it was endorsed in Thursday’s plenary meeting.
‘The Council underlines that all citizens, no matter their position are equal in front of the law and sustains that the principle of separation of powers should be observed, firstly, by the three powers’ representatives: the legislative, executive and judicial,’ Bogdan Gabor said. He added that the immunity of MPs and of members or former members of the Government should not lead to impossibility to conduct court proceedings and administration of justice, as they are an exclusive competence of the judiciary. ‘The CSM reminds the Venice Commission’s opinion according to which the observance of independence of the judiciary is paramount for a stable democracy, based on supremacy of the law,’ the CSM deputy-chairman said..
Traian Basescu: Romanian Constitution has been violated
President Klaus Iohannis said, after the Senate rejected DNA’s request to arrest Sova, that he could not overlook the fact that the Parliament had blocked yet another justice request, and pointed out that in a rule of law state no one is above the law and the Parliament may not become a court of justice.
Ex-President Traian Basescu also commented on the result of the vote in the Sova case, Wednesday night. In his opinion, the head of the Senate, Calin Popescu Tariceanu, broke the Constitution and committed grievous abuse of power. ‘Today, in the Sova case, Calin Constantin Anton Popescu Tariceanu committed a grievous abuse of power, breaking the Constitution of Romania and previous rulings of the Constitutional Court. This servant of Victor Viorel Ponta’s should be urgently brought to justice’, Traian Basescu writes on Facebook.
CCR: ‘Court is to be notified
The President of the Romanian Constitutional Court (CCR), Augustin Zegrean, said the CCR position in the matter of the Senate vote on Dan Sova’s case would be made public when the Court was asked to give a position and when the full panel of constitutional judges have made their decision. ‘I cannot tell you if the Constitution was broken, because the Court is to be notified. My opinion doesn’t matter in this. We will give an answer when the Court has been notified’, Zegrean said.
The constitutional judge also said that it is the Senate’s right to either grant or decline any such request, but noted that the spirit should be the observance of Constitution and laws, stressing that the Constitution prevails. Augustin Zegrean added that the Constitutional Court could be alerted in several ways if there is no Parliament decision, but said he could not act as a consultant on constitutional matters. ‘The law says I am not allowed to offer consultancy’, said the magistrate.
Raluca Turcan: ‘If they had arrested Sova, the Government would have fallen’
PNL MP Raluca Turcan says Dan Sova was saved from arrest by the Senate because, ‘if they had arrest Sova, the Government would have fallen’. ‘Dan Sova leads directly to Victor Ponta. PSD has chosen the politically dispensable victim, Darius Valcov, as a sacrifice for Sova’, says the PNL Vice-President in a pres release.
Raluca Turcan publicly demands Victor Ponta’s resignation, about whom she says is ‘Sova’s guarantor’, actually the person <saved> by the PSD political outlawry’. ‘Dan Sova was Victor Ponta’s business partner, their relationship is broadly known and definitely Victor Ponta has reasons to defend Dan Sova from the arm of justice’, the PNL MP says.
Reuters criticised blocking of Sova’s arrest
Immediately after learning the result of the vote in Dan Sova’s case, the US, UK and Dutch embassies expressed their ‘concern’ and ‘surprise’ to developments regarding the lifting of parliamentary immunity, especially in the context where political parties had made a commitment to fight against corruption.
Afterwards, the international media had a tough reaction.
Romania, seen as ‘one of the European Union’s most corrupt states’ drew more criticism as the Senate blocked the arrest of Dan Sova on Wednesday, Reuters says. ‘Romanian lawmakers voted to allow prosecutors to arrest a former finance minister for corruption on Wednesday but blocked the detention of another ex-minister, prompting renewed criticism of the country’s commitment to tackling high-level graft. The United States, Britain and the Netherlands issued statements after parliament’s decision not to lift the immunity of former transport minister Dan Sova, which also sparked anger and calls for protests in several cities on social media. Romania is seen as one of the European Union’s most corrupt states and its justice system is under special monitoring, though its prosecutors and magistrates have won praise from Brussels; yet, Romanian prosecutors and judges were praised in Brussels, the news agency stresses, noting that, on the other hand, the Romanian Parliament did vote to arrest of ex-Finance Minister Darius Valcov’, Reuters says.
Monica Macovei: ‘There is no political will to fight with corruption’
The President of the M10 Association, Monica Macovei, criticises the Senate’s decision in the case of Senator Dan Sova, stressing that the decision strengthened the opinion that there is no political will to fight with corruption, but just party interests and political calculations.
‘The Senate is saving Sova in the most shameful possible way: there were not enough votes to approve his arrest. The Constitution says Parliament decisions are made with the vote of the majority of attending members. Apart from the debate on the constitutionality of the vote in the Senate on Sova’s arrest, a question remains: whom did the Senate defend today? Just Sova or Ponta as well?’ Macovei states in a release issued on Wednesday.
‘The lack of consistency of the Senate about DNA’s requests for lifting the immunity of senators only strengthens the opinion that there is no political will to fight with corruption, but just party interests and political calculations. Sova and Vosganian are clear of investigation and justice because this is what they colleagues want. What the people want doesn’t matter to them’, Macovei said.
She claims the Senate Regulation kept the mention that a preventive arrest request made by prosecutors is adopted with the secret vote of the majority of members of the Senate, also counting the absent ones. Macovei notes that the Chamber of Deputies Regulation contains a more straightforward procedure, the decision being made with the vote of the majority of present members, being in agreement with the Constitution.
Macovei reminds that the prosecutors are investigating Dan Sova for possible illegalities in connection with contracts he had as a lawyer with the energy plants of Turceni and Rovinari and that in September 2009 the press reported irregularities with the contracts with Turceni and Rovinari of the law firm run by Sova, during Victor Ponta’s term as an MP of Gorj.
The president of the M10 Association notes the value of the contracts grew after Victor Ponta had become his partner in the law firm.
Macovei pointed out that Sova had sued her and, since she lost in the appeal court in Romania, the case was pending at ECHR, as it was all about the freedom of speech. She says that now, that a criminal investigation is in progress, many politicians have courage and speak about possible illegalities with the public contacts Sova-Ponta received from the state.
Writer Mircea Cartarescu: ‘We need early election’
Mircea Cartarescu also has a reaction to the result of the vote in Parliament on Wednesday, when the Senate managed to clock the arrest of Senator Dan Sova. ‘Did we really expect that a gang of criminals would turn in one of their own? We cannot cope with this Parliament any longer, we need early election’, the writer states on Facebook.
Protests in several cities
Protests against the use of parliamentary immunity ‘as a shield for criminals’ have been announced on Facebook for Friday in 10 cities in the country. ‘Dan Sova is keeping his immunity! The Mps continue to thrash the people and justice, ignoring the message the street gave them in November. It’s time we reminded them why we were out in November’ is the message announcing the protest in Bucharest.
The protests announced for Friday in Bacau, Brasov, Cluj-Napoca, Constanta, Iasi, Oradea, Sibiu, Timisoara and Targu-Mures follow another protest organised about some 150 persons in the University Square in Bucharest on Wednesday night.