Former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair is in no way implicated in the court file under which Romania’s former Prime Minister Victor Ponta is being investigated, but Blair’s name has been mentioned publicly by co-defendant Sebastian Ghita, chief prosecutor of the National Anti-Corruption Directorate (DNA) Laura Codruta Kovesi said Friday.
She added that the misinformation was leaked to the media by MP Sebastian Ghita on the morning of the day when he was summoned for hearings at the Ploiesti Local Office of DNA.
“First thing one morning, someone went out publicly to say what a DNA investigation was all about and what persons were implicated, although the latter was not true, because there is no such thing as a Ponta-Blair DNA case file. (…) There is a case file under which a businessman and a former prime minister are prosecuted. Tony Blair has no involvement in the case; there is no file on his name, although his name was suggested publicly by people under our investigation. (…) These aspects were made public by one of the persons prosecuted in our case (…), namely by businessman Ghita Sebastian, who made the misrepresentation one morning before showing up for hearings at DNA and before DNA releasing an official press statement,”Kovesi told Europa FM private radio broadcaster on Friday.
She added that Ghita’s attitude made the case prosecutor ban the defendants from making public representations about the case.
Victor Ponta is being investigated by DNA Ploiesti prosecutors for using personal influence or authority to get money, assets or any other ill-gotten gains, for self or others, and also for complicity to money laundering, while Gita is accused of money laundering.
The prosecutors argue Ponta used his authority to confirm that a businessman is made a candidate in the vernal election in a constituency where the candidate was sure to win.
Ponta is said to have made the conformation in exchange for ill-gotten gains in the shape of 220,000 euros needed to secure a visit to Romania by a foreign political figure, according to DNA.
Attacks on DNA target entire justice system
Attacks on anticorruption prosecutors are directed at the entire justice system, said on Friday, the head prosecutor of the National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA), Laura Codruta Kovesi.
“This attack does not target the DNA solely, this attack targets the justice system and all those who fight against corruption. These are attempts to intimidate the people who are working against corruption,” Kovesi told private radio broadcaster Europa FM.
In her opinion, the main support for the DNA prosecutors are the citizens who support the fight against corruption.
“The law defends us firstly, because we respect the law in everything we do, and I believe this demarche of ours is supported by all honest citizens of Romania, who want the anticorruption fight to continue,” the DNA head mentioned.
Asked if she felt support from politicians, Kovesi answered that there were cases in which there was concrete institutional support, but also cases in which the message was negative, such as the denial of requests sent to Parliament.
“Sometimes yes. (…) For example, I requested to the Justice Minister more jobs for the DNA and we received that (…) The support of the Ministry of Justice is very important when decisions of the Constitutional Court were handed down and legislative intervention was necessary. Thus, in this situation, we appealed to the political world, to the Justice Minister or the Prime Minister, and we were supported. If we speak of votes in Parliament, it is obvious there is a blockage there, and no support from the political world in what regards the judiciary activity,” said Laura Codruta Kovesi.
On case info leaks: In most cases this hinders us
Information from cases that makes it to the public space, in most situations, do a disservice to the investigators, said on Friday the head prosecutor of the National Anticorruption Directorate, Laura Codruta Kovesi.
“It is a matter that concerns us, too, very much, this information leak and I must say that in most cases it hinders us,” said Kovesi, at Europa FM.
She mentioned that much of the information that goes into the public space comes from defendants or from their attorneys, who have access to files.
“Presently, on the basis of the Penal Procedure Code, when we notify someone that he is accused in a case, we are obligated to give a copy of absolutely everything in the file to the said person or the attorney. This leads to situations in which often times we give out 30 copies of that file, if we have several defendants, or we have multiple persons assisting him as attorneys. (…) This is the most frequent manner in which information from the DNA comes into the public space and we cannot manage it,” said the DNA head.
Another source of information is the DNA itself, the institution being obligated by the norms in force to provide to journalists, on demand, some documents.
“There are rules issued by the Superior Council of Magistracy and a law regarding access to public information. We must give to journalists, on demand, some documents drawn up by prosecutors and that explains why, many times, I saw telephone conversations that appear in the press and that are taken from those documents that we provide,” said Kovesi.
She added that all who consider their rights infringed by the publishing of information in the public space can notify the Superior Council of Magistracy.
“Any person that believes that we have given information in an unauthorized manner to the public space can make a complaint at the Superior Council of Magistracy. This is very easy to verify and I can say that, from 2012 to now, in no situation was there proof that prosecutors have given documents or information to the public outside the legal framework,” said Laura Codruta Kovesi.