Authorities have so far offered no information about the fate of Prosecutor General Tiberiu Nitu, after information surfaced that he abusively used official motorcades, thus causing damage to the state.
Minister Raluca Pruna summoned Nitu on Wednesday in relation to his involvement in this scandal. When leaving the Justice Ministry headquarters, Nitu made no comments about the results of the talks. The Justice Minister did not make any kind of statement and released no kind of communiqué either.
Raluca Pruna stated on Wednesday at a press conference that she would talk with Tiberiu Nitu about his involvement in the investigation into the illegal use of official motorcades and that she does not rule out any possibility stipulated by law in what concerns the Prosecutor General.
“There is the possibility of keeping him [in office], there is the possibility of dismissal. So I am taking into account absolutely any kind of instrument at my disposal stipulated by Romanian legislation currently in force. I have to talk [with him] in order to listen to all opinions,” the Minister explained.
On Thursday, Pruna refused to answer the journalists’ questions about the talks and whether any measure will be taken.
Asked, at the headquarters of the Superior Magistracy Council (CSM), about her meeting with Nitu, Raluca Pruna refused to make any statements.
“I said from the start. At this moment, I don’t want to make any kind of statements. I believe I speak Romanian well, at this moment I can say absolutely nothing,” the Justice Minister said.
Tiberiu Nitu’s case may have been discussed during the CSM meeting on Thursday. The Council has to issue an opinion in case the Justice Minister demands the dismissal of the Attorney General or in case he resigns.
Prosecutor General Tiberiu Nitu allegedly used an official motorcade on 700 occasions, from April 2014 to October-November 2015, Agerpres informs, quoting official sources.
The Prosecutor General could be replaced solely by the President, following a possible request made by the Justice Minister.
Tiberiu Nitu’s tenure is set to expire on May 15.
Tiberiu Nitu is mentioned in the file drafted by National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA) prosecutors in the case that concerns former Deputy Premier and Interior Minister Gabriel Oprea, who is accused of malfeasance in office for unjustifiably using an official motorcade over 1,600 times in the first 10 months of 2015.
One of the two counts of malfeasance in office Gabriel Oprea is accused of has to do with the signing of a protocol on whose basis the Attorney General illegally used an official motorcade.
The request to approve the criminal prosecution will be discussed on Tuesday within the Judiciary Commission.
Gabriel Oprea considers himself innocent and has asked Senators, through an open letter, to approve the lifting of his immunity in order for him to answer before the law. The request will be discussed within the Judiciary Commission next Tuesday. The decision was taken within the Senate’s Standing Bureau, which had received the DNA request.
Referring to the DNA request that concerns former Deputy Premier Gabriel Oprea, PSD President Liviu Dragnea stated on Thursday, in Sinaia, that the Social Democrats do not oppose the judiciary’s requests, Agerpres informs.
Tiberiu Nitu: “I benefitted solely from the protection measures stipulated by law”
On Thursday, Prosecutor General Tiberiu Nitu remitted a press release in which he emphasises that he did not break the law and will not get involved in the Oprea case in which his name is mentioned.
“Bearing in mind the public comments that concern my person, I want to point out that throughout my career as a magistrate, as well as in my position as Attorney General, I have been permanently preoccupied with respecting the law and deontological norms.
From this point of view, I want to point out that as part of my activity as Prosecutor General, I benefitted solely from the protection measures stipulated by law, proportional to the risks and responsibilities of this office. I assure all of my Public Ministry collaborators, all of our institutional partners and all Romanian citizens that our activity – my personal activity – is not affected, is not influenced or perturbed by the legal overtures meant to fully clarify this situation and, at the same time, I adopt an obligatory attitude of reserve in relation to the activity carried out in this sense,” the communiqué reads.
At the end of the communiqué, the Prosecutor General claims it is his duty to make sure the Public Ministry’s activity takes place efficiently and “under normal conditions.”
MEP Norica Nicolai comes to Nitu’s defence
ALDE MEP Norica Nicolai claims that the Prosecutor General did not break the law when using an official motorcade, arguing that he needs protection in a country in which organized crime takes violent forms. She also believes the judiciary would not stand to gain much if Tiberiu Nitu were to resign several months before the expiration of his tenure.
“In my opinion, the Attorney General needs protection in a country in which organized crime takes violent forms, in which [there are] threats and blackmail and there were also some attacks on judges and prosecutors; having protection would have been mandatory. I believe Mr. Nitu did not break the law, there were probably a series of bureaucratic approvals that would have allowed him to have protection. It would have been more important for us to support the judiciary instead of trying to demolish it, so to speak, in a battle between prosecutor’s offices,” Norica Nicolai stated on RFI on Thursday.
Nevertheless, she pointed out she is not familiar with the details of the case.
“I know that the use of official motorcades is a tradition, with the appropriate quotation marks, because a lot of Romanian officials, a lot of Interior Ministers, have used these official motorcades over the years. Mr. Oprea defends himself by saying that there are regulations that allow him to do that,” the ALDE MEP added.
Asked whether Tiberiu Nitu should step down, Norica Nicolai said that “the Romanian judiciary would not stand to gain much if Tiberiu Nitu were to resign.”
Catalin Predoiu: Nitu’s fate is sealed
PNL First Vice President Catalin Predoiu claims that the fate of Prosecutor General Tiberiu Nitu is sealed and we will witness a resignation that would come naturally on his part.
“Looking at it objectively, the fate of Prosecutor General Nitu is sealed, we will witness a resignation, which is natural in this context,” the former Justice Minister wrote on Facebook on Thursday.