POLITICS

DNA Chief Prosecutor Laura Codruța Kovesi: “I did not discuss criminal files with the former or the present President, or the Prime Minister”

The Head Prosecutor of the National Anti-Corruption Directorate, Laura Kovesi, declared that she has never discussed with the former or present President, nor with the Prime Minister, the files presently investigated at DNA.

“I can only tell you that after Mr. President Basescu ended his term, I never discussed with him. I never discussed about criminal files, neither with the former President, nor with the present one. (…) I do not discuss files with the present President in general”, Kovesi declared in an interview for PRO TV.

“We had a conversation before I started the presentation of my activity report (for 2014, editor’s note) regarding statistical data on the results accomplished by DNA. We had no punctual conversations on certain files, these were principle-based discussions regarding the institution, the necessity of human resources, the need to change certain laws, things we discuss with the Justice Minister and the Internal Affairs Minister, things I think are important between the leaders of two important institutions of the state”, the Head Prosecutor of DNA declared.

Also, Laura Codruta Kovesi wished to point out that she never discussed any criminal files with PM Victor Ponta.

“The only discussions I ever had with the Prime Minister were the ones related to the invitation I made him to attend the annual activity report. Last year, we had a discussion about increasing the number of employees”, Kovesi declared.

 

“They are trying to limit the attributions of prosecutors”

 

The Head Prosecutor of DNA also showed her discontentment to the draft law targeted to change the Criminal Code, presently discussed in the Parliament, and declared that recent inquiries had caused “a certain amount of panic among politicians”, which had led to an attempt to restrict the attributions of prosecutors. The Head of DNA also mentioned some examples of the things that concern her:

“I think it is an attempt to limit prosecutors’ attribution. I do not think that in Romania the measure of preventive arrest was invented in 2015 and nor were handcuffs. I think that inquiries performed lately have caused a certain amount of panic among politicians and this is the reason why they attempt to restrict prosecutors’ attributions. I saw a few proposals of changes and they are massive. Let me give you an example: there is a proposal that a person who suffers of an untreatable disease may be exempted from executing the conviction they had received. The Criminal Code does not define what an untratable disease means; we are supposed to check the dictionary or to seek the advice of a doctor. If we judge the term overall, it refers to a disease that cannot be treated. If you have an allergy, you will not go to prison for stealing, because you have an untreatable disease. It is one of the changes they attempt to introduce. I think that a Code must establish a few general criteria. And of utmost importance is the fact that the measure of preventive arrest is always ordered by the judge. Judges are impartial and independent in Romania, any demand by a prosecutor is checked by a judge. Such censorship should not come from behalf of politicians, but from behalf of judges”, Laura Kovesi declared in an interview broadcast by PRO TV. Laura Codruta Kovesi also expressed her skepticism regarding politicians who claim to support the struggle against corruption.

“It is really hard to say, under the circumstances that, every two weeks, we discover new draft laws intended to change the Criminal Code or the Criminal Procedure Code, attempting to limit the attributions or the possibilities of conducting an inquiry. It would be really hard for me to say that the present political class supports the struggle against corruption. There are politicians who do indeed support the struggle against corruption but there are many of them but there are a lot of them attempting each time to change the law by obstructing or blocking the struggle against corruption. If we refer to the voting in the Parliament on the requests to cease immunity, we might point out that we are not always supported by the political class. A citizen who commits corruption offences may be arrested at any time, while member of the Parliament, considering his position, may commit the same offence or a more severe one, and he cannot be arrested as, sometimes, the voting in the Parliament blocks the exercising of this possibility”, Kovesi declared.

 

On Microsoft and EADS cases: ‘Hundreds have been interviewed so far’

 

The National Anticorruption Directorate continues to work on the Microsoft and EADS cases, interviewing people periodically, institution head Laura Codruta Kovesi said.

‘We keep working on them, evidence is being administered, we have interviews almost on a weekly basis, we have commissions rogatory in progress. We are working on it. The case has been completed for some persons, it has been sent to the court of law, I hope we can finish a part of the case soon. There are very many evidence requests made by the lawyers of the people under investigation’, Kovesi said on the Microsoft case on Pro TV on Sunday.

Asked if any new names were going to appear in the case, the Chief-Prosecutor of the National Anticorruption Department said that was possible. ‘That’s possible. I am not in charge of the investigation, the case prosecutor has the obligation to check all the information that appears. If any new names appear, you can be sure you will find out’, Kovesi said.

As for the EADS case, the DNA head said hundreds had been interviewed so far.

‘We are constantly working, we hold interviews, requests for international judicial assistance, there are a lot of commissions rogatory, there are a lot of interviews, we are checking documents. However, these two cases are more than just about a single offence, we suspect the commission of offences during very long periods of time, 7 – 8 years, and each segment needs checking. We are checking many agreements, their extension, additional deeds. This is not the kind of case that could be dealt with in 3 months. The criminal activity is extremely ample, it involves so many persons, responsibilities, documents that need to be checked, evidence. Hundreds have been interviewed so far. Just because we do not publish every stage doesn’t mean that we are not working on it’, Laura Codruta Kovesi said.

She also said DNA cooperated with other countries on the EADS case, but added she could not say which for confidentiality reasons.

The Chief-Prosecutor of DNA also said it was possible that a part of the investigation in both cases might be completed this year and then separate the case, as it ahs happened before.

‘There are people for whom the criminal investigation has been completed, the case has been referred to Court and the rest of the case has been separated. As the prosecutor finishes the investigation into certain people, he/she refers that part to Court. We are constantly working, there is no stalling on any day’, Kovesi concluded.

 

” I believe anti-corruption investigations have produced panic in political class”

 

The head of the National Anti-corruption Directorate (DNA), Laura Codruta Kovesi, stated on Sunday, at private broadcaster ProTV, that the

investigations conducted in the recent past have produced a sort of panic within the political class and that she believes this to be the reason for which the limiting of prosecutor attributions is attempted.

“I believe there is an attempt to limit the attributions of prosecutors. I don’t believe that in Romania the measure of preventive arrest was invented in 2015, nor were handcuffs invented now. I believe the investigations of late have produced a sort of panic within the political class and I believe this is the reason for which the limiting of prosecutor attributions is attempted”, said Kovesi, referring to the recent initiatives to limit the arrest methods.

She said that it is difficult to say if the current political class supports the fight against corruption.

“It is difficult to say, given that every two weeks there is a draft to modify the Penal Code or the Criminal Procedure Code through which there is an attempt to limit the attributions or limit the possibilities to investigate. It would be very difficult for me to say that the current political class is supporting the fight against corruption”, Kovesi said.

The head of the DNA showed that there are politicians who truly support the fight against corruption, but there is are also many who try to amend laws so that the fight against corruption is hindered or blocked.

“If we refer to the vote in Parliament on requests for immunity removal, we could say that we do not always have support on the part of the political class. A citizen committing a crime can be arrested at any time by a judge, while an MP, for the simple fact that he is part of the Romanian Parliament, even though he is committing the same crime or an even more serious crime, cannot be arrested because sometimes the vote in Parliament can block the exercise of this possibility”, the head prosecutor emphasized.

Kovesi said that she saw some amendment proposals that were highly strange.

“There is a proposal according to which if a person is suffering from an incurable disease he cannot serve the sentence he receives. The Penal Code does not define what incurable disease means, maybe only if we take the dictionary or go to a doctor we can find out what incurable disease means. If we are to take the general term, as we should, it is a disease that cannot be cured. So if you have an allergy, for example, you won’t go to jail regardless of how much you steal because you have an incurable disease. It is one of the amendments that is being attempted to be introduced in this draft law”, Kovesi explained.

 

“I want to live in a country that is fairer, cleaner”

 

Laura Codruta Kovesi also told the private broadcaster ProTV that she wishes, after the end of her mandate, to live in a country that is fairer and cleaner.

“We should live in a country in which we are not forced to bribe in order to have access to what we should have access by law. I want to live in a country that is fairer, cleaner, this is what I want. And maybe in a more peaceful country, in which all do their duty. I believe that is the thing I want most”, said Kovesi.

In her opinion, the critiques certain persons have brought to the institution show that the anti-corruption fight is garnering results.

“I see that everybody is critiquing the DNA. This shows me that we are on the right path. The more we are critiqued by certain persons, the more I am convinced that we are on the right path”, said Laura Codruta Kovesi.

 

I do not believe undercover officers exist in the DNA, but checks should be made

 

Kovesi stated on Sunday, at private broadcaster ProTV, that she excludes the existence of undercover officers in the institution she is leading, but she has nothing against checks being conducted.

“I don’t believe undercover agents exist in the DNA. (…) I am relying on the moral quality of the colleagues with which I am working, firstly I am counting on that and I know my colleagues very well, I know their professional and moral attitude (…) and I don’t believe the SRI [Romanian Intelligence Service] needs undercover agents in the DNA”, said Kovesi.

The head of the DNA also said she agrees with checks to uncover potential undercover officers.

“I have no issue if there are checks now, very well, checks should be done. (…) So, I do not believe there are undercover officers in the DNA, but checks should be made”, said Laura Codruta Kovesi.

 

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