The Senate’s Standing Bureau met on Monday in order to discuss the timetable in what concerns the National Anticorruption Directorate’s (DNA) request for the Senate to approve the lifting of PSD Senator and ex-Foreign Minister Titus Corlatean’s legal immunity.
The quorum was not reached this time either, so the meeting was postponed for a later date.
The Liberal members of the Senate’s leadership accused their Social Democrat colleagues on Monday of leaving the meeting in order for the quorum not to be met. Senate Quaestor Cristian Bodea (PNL) stated that Constantin Augustin Mitu, PSD’s representative within the Standing Bureau and Deputy Speaker of the Senate, was present at the meeting of the Senate’s leadership but left the room when he saw that the quorum had been met, in order for the meeting to be suspended, news.ro informs.
“When he saw that his presence ensured the quorum he fled. This is the game,” Bodea said, pointing out that although the leaders of parliamentary groups were present at the meeting they did not have the right to vote so they could not have ensured the quorum.
“PSD did not explain to us why their people were absent,” Bodea added.
This was the second attempt to convene the Senate’s Standing Bureau, after the Senate leadership could not hold a meeting last week for the same reason, the reason invoked for the absences that time around being that many MPs are campaigning within their constituencies.
In what concerns the DNA’s request, the Senate’s Regulations do not impose a deadline for the debate and drafting of the Judicial Commission’s report, as happens in the case of requests to approve the detention and pre-trial arrest of MPs.
According to Senate Regulations, the Standing Bureau will send the DNA’s request to the Judicial Commission, which has 14 days at its disposal to draft its report on the prosecutors’ request. After the report is completed, the plenum will vote on the DNA request through secret ballot.
The DNA asked the Romanian Senate to approve the start of the criminal prosecution against Titus Corlatean in the Diaspora Case, for malfeasance in office and hampering the exercise of voter rights, offences that he allegedly committed while being minister.
On November 2 and November 16, 2014, Romanians formed queues outside voting centres in several European capitals, thousands of them being unable to cast their votes. Titus Corlatean resigned from the office of Foreign Minister before the presidential runoff, because of the problems registered at voting centres abroad.
Tariceanu: “This is not about malfeasance in office”
Senate Speaker Calin Popescu Tariceanu stated that the former minister did not commit malfeasance in office per se.
“The problem is not establishing a timetable, it’s reaching the quorum at the Standing Bureau’s meeting. While last week some of the Bureau’s members could invoke – let’s say – the ad-hoc convening, now, since there was a week in-between, I don’t believe they have any reason to be absent,” the Senate Speaker stated on Sunday.
Asked how he will vote in the plenum, Tariceanu stated that he is waiting for the point of view of the Judicial Commission, after the latter analyses the case file, but reiterated that he does not support the prosecutors’ point of view.
“Here we are not talking about malfeasance in office in the sense incriminated by the Criminal Code – there are political decisions for which politicians are held accountable in general – they are either sanctioned by the electorate, or they themselves take responsibility for the mistakes, just as Titus Corlatean did, adopting a very fair and very honourable attitude,” Tariceanu claimed.