A key office during an election year, the Interior Ministry is looking for a leader after Petre Toba resigned last Thursday, several names being recently rumoured as his replacement in the office whose holder will have the primordial task of organising the elections.
Dragos Tudorache, head of the Premier’s Chancellery, was the first to be rumoured as interim Interior Minister following Petre Toba’s resignation. Official sources confirmed the information for Agerpres last Friday, but subsequently ProTV journalist Paul Angelescu found out that Tudorache would most certainly not take over as interim Interior Minister. The ProTV reporter asked Defence Minister Mihnea Motoc, on his arrival at the government, whether he would become Interior Minister, but the Defence Minister denied the allegations.
Sorin Ionita and Expert Forum President Constantin Dudu Ionescu were other names named by the press in recent days. They pointed out they did not receive proposals to take over the office.
Constantin Dudu Ionescu, currently President Iohannis’s security advisor, was previously Interior Minister in 1999-2000, as part of the CDR Government. Former leading member of PNTCD, he then joined Dan Voiculescu’s party, known as PUR back at the time. He subsequently grew close to PD-L.
Interior Minister Petre Toba on Thursday tendered his resignation, after the National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA) charged him with aiding and abetting the offenders in the case of former Department for Intelligence and Internal Protection (DIPI) heads.
Subsequently, the Government announced that Prime Minister Dacian Ciolos accepted Toba’s resignation. “Prime Minister Dacian Ciolos accepted Mr Petre Toba’s resignation as Interior Minister. Until Monday, September 5, the Prime Minister will forward President Klaus Iohannis the proposal for the replacement to head the Interior Ministry,” the Government pointed out.
Toba: “I’ve been permanently attacked for political reasons”
“I have decided to file my resignation with the Prime Minister in order to avoid dragging the Interior Ministry into a public scandal on the verge of the elections. I vehemently reject the accusations levied and I’m placing myself at the disposal of investigative bodies in order to clarify any situation. Let me point out that all the actions presented took place prior to my tenure, and the prosecutor handling the case had access to all the necessary documents, including those labelled as ‘state secret,’” Petre Toba announced through the Interior Ministry’s press office.
Message for MAI employees posted on Facebook: I’ve been permanently attacked for political reasons
Subsequently, the resigning Interior Minister posted on the ministry’s Facebook page a message for the employees of the institution, thanking them for collaboration and claiming that he had been constantly attacked, from the very start of his tenure, for political reasons.
“I have been permanently attacked, ever since the start of my tenure, but not for what I have done professionally, for my bills or my activity as a minister, but for other reasons of a political nature. I emphasise that I was never engaged in politics and I never will, I didn’t see the office of minister as a launch pad to accede to political life, I will be dedicated to my professional work, I will permanently be in the service of the country and of the citizen, just as I have been for over 26 years. During this time, I resisted the temptation to give up, because I permanently had by my side the support of my Interior Ministry colleagues, from all branches, and that is why I once again thank you. As a man who has worked within this system, I knew at the time I was sworn in that an election year means a year of turmoil. This is what the history of election years proves – in 2009 and 2012, the Interior Ministry had 5 ministers. Nevertheless, I took on this challenge, and I believe it was worth it given what I have done for the institution and especially for the citizen!” Petre Toba wrote on the Interior Ministry’s Facebook page after he resigned.
In his message, Petre Toba reviews the accomplishments of the ministry he led in 2016.
“Through it activity during this time, the Interior Ministry brought a major contribution to the fact that today Romania is recognized as a secure state, a factor of stability and security at regional level. But the most important thing is the fact that all these accomplishments are not to be found solely in analyses and statistics but are directly perceived by citizens, the most important barometer in assessing an institution’s activity,” Petre Toba wrote.
Anti-corruption head asks President for statement on prosecution of Interior Minister Toba
The head of the National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA), Laura Codruta Kovesi, has asked Romania’s President for a statement on a request for the criminal prosecution of incumbent Internal Affairs Minister Petre Toba, in connection with the corruption file of former heads of the Police Internal Intelligence Service (DIPI).
In a press statement remitted by the DNA to Agerpres on Thursday, the request for the criminal prosecution of Minister Toba is said to currently involve aspects leading to a reasonable suspicion that on 1 April 2016, when the DNA was carrying out investigations in relation to case file 20/P/2016 (under which senator Gabriel Oprea, the interior minister at the time, and other persons were indicted), Petre Toba, in his capacity as minister of internal affairs, refused to start the procedure of partial declassification of some documents.
According to the DNA, minister Petre Toba refused in a discretionary manner to commence the procedure to declassify some pieces of legislation the breach of which concerns the substance of malfeasance in office and embezzlement, meaning a situation that excludes the protection of classified information, according to Article 3 of Law 182/2002 on the protection of classified information, since it would lead to ignoring Article 10 with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (the right to a fair trial that includes the right of information on the criminal charges).
“The lack of transparency in the management of the operative funds made a mockery of the operative funds and national security. Goods were acquired with no connection whatsoever to the general interest of maximum importance, as evidence shows,” say the prosecutors.
The source specifies that in absolutely similar situations (misuse of funds for witness protection, misappropriation of funds, respectively) Minister Toba operated in quite the opposite manner: he declassified MAI regulations under file 596/P/2015, but denied declassification under file 20/P/2016.
“So, Minister Toba in January 2016 yielded to the demand from the DNA and declassified rules for the management and control of the funds for witness protection, managed by a MAI department, namely the National Office for Witness Protection (ONPM), with some rules being absolutely identical with the ones regulating the administration of operative funds, as the funds managed by the ONPM are a special category of operative funds,” says the DNA release.
The request was being attached to the DNA prosecutors report alongside 9 volumes of the criminal prosecution file.
Justice Minister: I notice the fight against corruption is working, and I’m glad
Responding to a question related to the DNA’s request for the start of the criminal prosecution against Petre Toba, Justice Minister Raluca Pruna stated she was glad that “the fight against corruption is working.”
Asked on Friday, in Cluj, for her comment on the resignation of minister Petre Toba, whose criminal prosecution has been requested by the DNA, Raluca Pruna refused to answer and stated solely: “I notice the fight against corruption is working.”
“The Prosecutor’s Office has taken a decision and like I’ve told you every time, I won’t comment on the Prosecutor’s Office’s decisions. However, I notice the fight against corruption is working and I’m glad,” the Justice Minister stated, being quoted by Mediafax.
First verdict in Petre Toba’s plagiarism case: He did not plagiarise
The Special Commission of the National Council for the Certification of University Titles, Diplomas and Certificates (CNATDCU) has established that outgoing Interior Minister Petre Toba did not plagiarise.
Thus, the proposal of the members of the commission is for the former Interior Minister to keep his Ph.D. title, Mediafax informs.
“The working commission considers as finalised its analysis of the doctoral thesis authored by Mr. Toba Petre, titled “The Romanian Police – Force for stability and security. Optimising the management of international cooperation to combat unconventional threats,” from the point of view of the notification concerning the presumptive existence of a case of multiple plagiarism in its content and on the basis of the resulting conclusions. We propose the upholding of the Ph.D. title conferred to Mr. Toba Petre through Order no.5223/29.08.2011,” reads the document written by the commission that analysed Petre Toba’s doctoral thesis.
The document is dated September 1.
“Mr. Petre Toba’s doctoral thesis has an incontestable scientific value, proven both through the innovative character of the solutions identified, which were put to good use and validated through the practice of the Romanian Police’s specialised structures, and also through the specialised opinions expressed by personalities recognised in the academic world of military science, intelligence and national security, who were part of the doctoral commission, namely University Professor Teodor Frunzeti, University Professor Constantin Popescu, University Professor Luca Iamandi and University Professor Teodora Stefan,” the aforementioned document reads.
The commission’s report will next go to CNATDCU’s General Council, which will take a decision. The decision will then be forwarded to the Education Ministry.