The trial of Victor Ponta and PSD Senator Dan Sova (photo R) in the Turceni-Rovinari case began at the High Court of Cassation and Justice (ICCJ) on Monday, after the National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA) prosecutors had referred the case to court on Thursday.
On the first court date the liens and preventive measures in the case were checked and only Senator Dan Sova, who is on probation, appeared in court. Victor Ponta who has no preventive measure in the Rovinari-Turceni case, was not present during the hearing. He had not been summoned nor was it mandatory for him to be present in court.
Senator Dan Sova said at the High Court on Monday that he did not understand the reasons for which Premier Victor Ponta should resign after being brought to trial in the Turceni-Rovinari case.
‘I cannot see the reason for him to resign. (…) Any debate on the case should happen in the courtroom’, Dan Sova, who appeared in court on the first hearing date, said.
He claimed he was not disturbed by his ban from talking to Victor Ponta, co-defendant in the case, and that he was not at all anxious about the trial because he intended to present his arguments before the magistrates.
When he left the court, Dan Sova told the press that he had asked for the termination of his probation order, without explaining the reasons. Moreover, Sova noted he would not resign office in Parliament because there were no reasons for that. Asked by the press, Sova said he did not feel responsible for ruining Victor Ponta’s political career and that he had observed the Constitution.
The DNA prosecutors referred to court Victor Ponta and four other people in the Turceni-Rovinari case on Thursday.
The case was registered with the High Court of Cassation and Justice on Thursday and the prosecutors proposed that the existing preventive measures and liens should be preserved during trial.
ICJ judge Cristina Rotaru who was supposed to analyse the PM’s cased in preliminary chamber on Friday abstained. She is the judge who had a distinct opinion and supported Adrian Nastase’s acquittal in his Quality Trophy trial.
Prime-Minister Victor Ponta was referred to court on 17 counts of falsification of private documents, complicity in tax evasion and money laundering, offences allegedly committed as a lawyer, lawful representative of the ‘Ponta Victor-Viorel’ law firm.
In the same case, Dan-Coman Sova, coordinating lawyer at the ‘Sova si Asociatii’ law firm, currently a senator, is on trial on three counts of complicity in abyse of power obtaining undue benefits for another person, falsification of private documents (17 offences), tax evasion and money laundering. Sova was brought to trial under a probation order.
Victor Ponta: ‘When one is wrongly accused by inventing facts, I believe one has the right to defend themselves’
Prime-Minister Victor Ponta said on Monday, answering a question whether he was standing by his assertions regarding prosecutor Nicoale Uncheselu, that he had stated his position because ‘in a democratic country, when one is wrongly accused, one defends himself’.
‘You called him by his name (the prosecutor – editor’s note). I never said his name. I apologise for daring state my position in a democratic country. When one is wrongly accused by inventing facts, I believe, in reasonably democratic society, unlike the Stalinist societies, one has the right to defend themselves. (…) I believe it to be my right to appear before a court and state my point of view. What would you want me to do? Admit to the fact that something untrue is true? Any person can understand that it is not true’, Ponta added.
Prime-Minister Victor Ponta wrote on Facebook on Thursday, after DNA’s announcement regarding his referral to court, that ‘the only problem of the country is the obsession of a totally unprofessional prosecutor about establishing his career by inventing and imagining untrue facts and situations going back ten years’.
A day later, the leadership of the Superior Magistrates Council (CSM) notified the Judicial Inspection asking it to check if PM Victor Ponta’s statements after his referral to court had affected the independence of the judiciary.
“I never did anything illegal or bad intently”
Prime Minister Victor Ponta wrote on Facebook last Sunday a message thanking everyone who had wished him a happy birthday, mentioning that he had never done anything illegal or bad intently, he had learned from his mistakes and apologized when making something wrong.
“I thank everyone who has sent me today a positive thought (family, friends, colleagues or strangers, as well as to the two young persons who have seen me in my car, at the stop, and winded the window down just to wish me ‘Happy birthday’”, Victor Ponta wrote on his official Facebook page.
“In 43 years, I have already experienced many things, good and bad, I believe in God, I love my family more than I love myself, I help my friends and I respect people. I have never done anything illegal or bad intently, I have learned from my mistakes and I have apologized when I made something wrong. Even today, in times I have never experienced before, I think that stupidity, abomination and hatred, so present today in our life, cannot fundamentally as persons”, Ponta added, who had turned 43 years old on Sunday.
Senate President Tariceanu: Accusations against PM, extremely flimsy
Senate President Calin Popescu-Tariceanu on Monday said the accusations levelled at Prime Minister Victor Ponta are “extremely flimsy,” while the alleged offences under prosecution were not committed while Ponta was in office. He added that the principle of innocent until proven guilty should operate in Ponta’s case as well.
“I have listened to specialists’ opinions. The accusations levelled at the prime minister in his court case are extremely flimsy. The prime minister is not accused of offences that would have been committed while in office. (…) I believe we should accept the presumption of innocence, which operated in the case of incumbent head of state, who ran for office in last year’s election although he had been sent to court. He did not just ran, but he was elected precisely because, I suppose, the citizens started off from this premise or had in mind precisely the presumption of innocence. That is why we should operate with the same unit of measurement for all cases,” Tariceanu said at the Parliament Palace.
He added that the news about the prime minister being sent to court has a great impact abroad.
“Such news certainly has an impact overseas as well; nobody sits and looks at what is behind, whether or not the accusations are grounded or solid. What prevails is the headline and that is that. So, there is a certain impact and that is why I pointed out that special responsibility should exist when a court case is built against the prime minister,” said Tariceanu.
He also argued that the court case implicating Ponta should have not been built while Ponta was in office.
“The same as under the presidency of Traian Basescu there were very many court cases involving him, they were put aside by order of the then Attorney General Mr Daniel Morar precisely not to damage the prestige and political stability; I believe when the prime minister of a country is involved, particularly for actions not related to his term in office and that are extremely flimsy accusations they should be very responsibly weighed, given the grave political consequences such gesture could trigger,” added Tariceanu.