Asked for an opinion on the decision of the Constitutional Court (CCR) that had ruled the Senate’s decision regarding the vote on the Dan Sova case was unconstitutional, the Legal Affairs Committee of this Chamber decided on Wednesday that, in the case of the vote given for the DNA request for the detention and arrest, the entire procedure should be repeated.
It would also involve a new report to be issued by the same Legal Committee after hearing Senator Sova (photo).
The decision to redo the whole procedure in the Sova case was made with four votes in favour, three opposed and one abstention.
Two PNL members missed the works of the Legal Committee – Senator Alin Tise and Dinca Marinica, an absence that sparked discussions among the Liberals who, according to stiripesurse.ro, said their skipping such an important event was ‘unpardonable’.
After extended disputes, the Standing Bureau of the Senate returned to the Legal Committee the case of Social-Democrat Dan Sova Wednesday afternoon.
‘We do not want to stall any decision. If, when we recess on Tuesday, the Standing Bureau does not receive or if the decision of the Legal Committee is not adopted under the conditions of the Regulation, in keeping with the procedures stipulated by the Regulation, the decision will be made in plenary meeting. We don’t know any other procedure’, explained the Social-Democrat Cristian Dumitrescu, Deputy Speaker of the Senate. He also noted that ‘the diligence the Standing Bureau did was very clear, fast and speedy’.
‘We have a deadline on Tuesday for discussing the position. It was formulated more quickly, faster. We have made a decision. I have asked them to try and draft the decision by Tuesday. If we don’t succeed, the decision will be made in plenary sitting, based on a debate with arguments and we will decide in plenary meeting on how to proceed’, the PSD senator stressed.
He was asked what would happen if the following week the decision was to take a new vote. ‘If that is the decision, we will take a new vote’, Cristian Dumitrescu answered, and added that ‘this is no longer about repeating the procedure’.
Calin Popescu Tariceanu: We might have next week a vote in the Senate
Senate Chairman Calin Popescu-Tariceanu says the Legal Committee must come by next Tuesday with “an articulate proposition” of a draft decision on the case of Senator Dan Sova, but the Senate plenum has the final sovereign decision, even in the absence of a consensus in the committee.
“If we have an articulate proposition of the Legal Committee, voted by it, we will submit it to the plenum, which can accept it or reject it. If the committee does not agree on a proposition, because they cannot get the majority vote, then talks begin in the plenum, propositions come, for instance from the leaders of the parliamentary groups or from other senators, and the vote will be on these. (…) [We might have next week] a vote in the Senate plenum to this effect, if it is decided this way – repeating the vote and the decision; or if it is decided, also by the plenum, the other version – just adopting a decision,” Tariceanu explained.
‘I believe that we should ascertain, under the new Senate Regulation, that the vote on 14 March was perfectly valid and Mr. Dan Sova may go before the prosecutors. We are only reinterpreting the vote’, Catalin Boboc, Chair of the Legal Committee and PNL Senator, said during the meeting, according to stiripesurse.ro.
‘CCR holds against us that the vote was given on two acts ruled unconstitutional – the Regulation of the Senate and the Senate Decision of 14 March. My point of view is the following: by declaring the Senate decision unconstitutional, CCR actually invalidated the entire procedure that happened in the Sova case then. I propose to you a report and a draft decision through which the prosecutor’s office request will receive a positive or negative answer, according to the plenary vote organised according to the Regulation in force. I admit I expected CCR would tell us more, after two consecutive unconstitutionality rulings;’ Ioan Chelaru, PSD Senator, said.
‘CCR tell us that the Senate gave a different meaning to the vote than the constitutional one. We actually voted using a correct procedure, but the interpretation of the result of the vote was incorrect. So CCR clearly says the Senate assigned a different legal effect to the result of the vote. We must assign the correct legal effect to the result of the vote. This is why it’s simple for the speaker of the Senate to assign the result of the vote by his decision, like in the Valcov case given the same day, which was an approval vote;’ PNL Senator Cristian Bodea said. PNL’s request for reinterpretation was declined.
Legal Affairs Committee chair: ‘I have not seen or heard of a procedure like this’
After the meeting, the Chairman of the Legal Committee, Catalin Boboc (PNL), said he didn’t know what the procedure would be and if Senator Dan Sova would be heard again.
‘I am sorry to see that, in the case of experienced law specialists, the indications and party line defeat reason and arguments, because today we have had a discussion with arguments, based on texts. I have not seen or heard of a procedure like this. What I can tell you is that PSD, with or without arguments, it doesn’t matter, uses the number of votes it ahs at a certain time, the majority they have, to approach such subjects as it best suits them at each particular time’, Boboc said. ‘I cannot understand how the entire procedure can be repeated, it’s a trick, a finding of PSD. I am really annoyed by this because we usually use arguments in our work at the Legal Committee’, the chairman of the Legal Committee said after the meeting.
Asked if the vote on Dan Sova could be pushed until after the Parliament recess, Boboc answered: ‘God forbid!’ He added that he had asked the technical staff to expedite the editing of the Committee decision.
Cristian Bodea: ‘This case could be pushed to the autumn’
PNL Senator Cristian Bodea says the National Liberal Party (PNL) opposes the decision of the Legal Committee that proposed to the Standing Bureau a new vote in the case of Senator Dan Sova. In a telephone intervention in B1 TV, Bodea also said that, with that measure, PSD was trying to stall the process and push it to the autumn.
‘PSD will mobilise itself very well and this case could be pushed to the autumn. They wish to hear Dan Sova again at the Committee… They can easily push this until the autumn’, Bodea said. ‘The vote was legal. Art. 172 presents the way of interpretation. The manner of interpreting the vote was unconstitutional. It is all about the interpretation of the result. On the same day, 25 May, Tariceanu interpreted the vote on the Valcov case as an approval decision. (…) We’ll see if they want to get this over with quickly or drag things until the fall’, the PNL senator also noted.
The Constitutional Court of Romania on Tuesday published the motivation of the decision issued on 6 May on the decision of the Senate regarding the vote on 25 March for the request for the arrest of Senator Dan Sova. The Speaker of the Senate, Calin Popescu Tariceanu had announced that the Senate would comply with the CCR decision, but not before receiving its arguments.
CCR says the vote on a request for the detention, arrest or search is given ‘in observance of the constitutional provisions regarding the adoption quorum, by the majority of members present during the plenary meeting of the Senate that is called to vote on the request made by the Prosecutor’s Office of the High Court of Cassation and Justice, through the minister of justice.
CCR also found that the change of art. 173 of the Senate Regulation which now says decisions on the request for the detention and arrest are made by secret vote of the majority of attending senators was made after the previous text had been subjected to the constitutionality check.
The decision presenting the vote of the Senate in the Sova matter, prepared by the Senate as requested by the Constitutional Court and signed by Senate Speaker Calin Popescu Tariceanu was published on 2 April in the Official Journal. It contains a single article and finds that ‘the conditions required under Section 24, paragraph 4 of Law No. 96/2006 and Section 73 of the Regulation of the Senate, for approving the detention or arrest of Senator Sova Dan-Coman were not fulfilled’.
Dan Sova escaped arrest on 25 March as the Senate did not produce the necessary number of votes in favour of DNA’s request. Out of the 151 expressed votes, 79 were in favour, 67 opposed and 5 were annulled, failing to obtain the necessary majority of 85 votes in favour.
According to the Senate Regulation in force and applicable at the time of the vote (art. 173 that was the object of the PNL senators’ claim), Senate decisions are only approved of voted by the majority of senators, rather than the majority of senators who are present for the vote. The Regulation was changed the week after the vote.