The Constitutional Court (CCR) rejected on Wednesday the National Liberal Party’s (PNL) notification concerning the Lower Chamber’s vote on the National Anticorruption Directorate’s (DNA) request to approve the start of its prosecution against Premier Victor Ponta for conflict of interest in the Turceni-Rovinari case, a vote cast a month ago.
PNL’s appeal at the Constitutional Court consisted of two aspects: the first concerned Article 157 of the Lower Chamber’s internal regulations, an article on which the demands to approve DNA’s requests are based, and the second concerned the Lower Chamber’s June 9 vote. The former was rejected unanimously for being groundless, while the latter was rejected unanimously for being inadmissible.
PNL had announced on July 10 that it would attack at the Constitutional Court the vote through which the Lower Chamber rejected the start of the prosecution against Victor Ponta for conflict of interest. The Lower Chamber’s Permanent Bureau asked the Constitutional Court on Monday to reject the Liberals’ appeal.
“PNL’s appeal is only a desperate attempt to create false subjects in order to point out that they are allegedly active during the parliamentary recess, even though during the parliamentary sitting the Liberals had no kind of objections against the aspects they now invoke. That is precisely why I cannot help but wonder why PNL has epiphanies concerning the Constitution only now, well over a month after the vote cast by the Lower Chamber in the case of Mr. Victor Ponta and after they did not appeal in any way against the changes brought to the Lower Chamber’s internal regulations,” Lower Chamber Speaker Valeriu Zgonea stated.
In its appeal, PNL pointed out that the Lower Chamber did not put up for vote the prosecutors’ request to have the Premier investigated but the Judiciary Commission’s report which proposed to the plenum, on the basis of Article 157 of the internal regulations, not to demand the criminal prosecution. The appeal was filed by 105 PNL Lower Chamber MPs.
Augustin Zegrean: “In certain situations Parliament can stop an arrest and arraignment”
Constitutional Court President Augustin Zegrean was asked on Wednesday, before the meeting in which the Court analyzed the constitutionality of the vote on Victor Ponta’s immunity, for his view on Romania’s situation, the country having a government headed by an indicted Premier.
“Don’t ask me that anymore, you know my eyesight is bad,” Zegrean said jokingly.
In what concerns the appeal that was about to be analyzed, Zegrean pointed out that PNL “appeals against a text from the Lower Chamber’s internal regulations. Declaring it unconstitutional would entail other consequences too.”
Zegrean however emphasized that the Parliament has the constitutional right to refuse the lifting of an MP’s immunity.
“What you have to understand is that Parliament has the possibility to refuse a request to lift immunity. In certain situations Parliament can stop an arrest and arraignment. That is why parliamentary immunity was invented,” Zegrean explained.
Victor Ponta reacted on Wednesday to the rejection by the Constitutional Court of PNL’s claim against the vote given by the Chamber of Deputies in the matter of the prime-minister’s immunity.
‘I regret the stubbornness and persistence of PNL in using justice in the political battle. Their political incompetence and impotence cannot and must not be replaced by other powers in the state!’ Victor Ponta writes on Facebook.