Social Democratic Party (PSD) President Liviu Dragnea stated on Sunday evening that he is considering filing a simple motion against Justice Minister Raluca Pruna (photo), after she stated that she lied to ECHR judges about the funds allocated for penitentiaries.
“We are seriously considering filing a simple motion (against Justice Minister Raluca Pruna – editor’s note), even if Premier Ciolos will disregard it, just like he disregarded the one against the Agriculture Minister,” the PSD President stated on Antena 3.
He said that for a member of the Government to publicly state they lied to ECHR judges is something very serious.
“I find it very serious that a member of the Romanian Government is stating they lied to ECHR judges. What do those people think about us? How does Romania look? Even if it’s the technocrat Romania, how is it seen over there?” the PSD leader said.
Liviu Dragnea told the technocrat members of the Government not to forget that, even though they feel protected and are made to think they are above the law, everyone is held accountable for the damage caused to Romanians.
Justice Minister Raluca Pruna has stated she lied at the ECHR that she has a budget of almost 1 billion Euros for seven penitentiaries, when in reality the Government did not have that sum, arguing that her statements “were good intentions.”
“You know how it is, judge? It’s like in the case of the penitentiaries, when I went to the ECHR and lied, and I’m saying that correctly, lied at the ECHR, because I thought that if I am handed over a document signed by a Romanian state official… So I lied there by saying we have allocated for seven penitentiaries a budget of 150 million Euros per penitentiary, ergo almost 1 billion Euros, but these were just good intentions, because in reality we do not have these funds in the budget. That’s what happened in what concerns the investments too. It doesn’t cost me or any other minister anything to draft a very nice document, to say we need 2 billion Euros to have top infrastructure in Romania, but as long as you lack the budget these things won’t happen. So this Government, whom I feel obligated to defend, not necessarily because I am its member, this Government inherited this collection of good intentions. And I had to come up and say I can’t build seven penitentiaries because I lack the funds (…),” Raluca Pruna said last Thursday at a Superior Magistracy Council (CSM) meeting.
The Justice Minister’s statements came against the backdrop in which CSM was discussing the postponement of investments into court of law headquarters. According to a press release issued by the ECHR, Raluca Pruna visited the Court on 14 June 2016, where she was met by President Guido Raimondi. The meeting was also attended by judge Iulia Motoc, elected to represent Romania, and chief registrar Roderick Liddel.
Udrea asks Ciolos to sack Pruna: It’s absolutely unbelievable
MP Elena Udrea has asked Premier Dacian Ciolos to sack Justice Minister Raluca Pruna following her statement that she lied ECHR judges. Udrea launched a virulent attack against Pruna, calling her “the sinister disciple of Monica Macovei” and “proof of communist mentality,” asking for the National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA) to intervene.
“Absolutely incredible – Justice Minister Raluca Pruna has stated before the CSM that she lied at the ECHR by saying that she has the budget for seven penitentiaries. Against the backdrop in which I spent 74 days at the central detention centre and 6 days at the Targsor penitentiary, in conditions hard to imagine even for an African country, I am outraged by the statement made by this sinister disciple of Monica Macovei. This is proof of communist mentality, in which “the enemies of the people” should end up in jails and possibly die there. And Romanians should know that this is actually happening – in Jilava, in July and September, two people died because they were denied medical care. They were basically condemned to death by a murderous system that sees human rights as “a luxury,” precisely as the Justice Minister put it.”
“I am warning that through her statement before the CSM, Pruna admits to two serious crimes: making false public statements and malfeasance in office (because that is how the DNA interprets the deficient observance of official prerogatives).”
“Premier Ciolos has to sack Raluca Pruna. I will notify all international institutions, starting with the ECHR, on how Raluca Pruna lied about the situation of Romanian penitentiaries.”
“P.S. Given the current conditions, I believe that, before they start their tenure, all those wanting to become Justice Ministers should go to jail for a week, see how life is there, among the rats, cockroaches, without water and without heating in winter,” Udrea wrote on Facebook.
Penitentiary system trade union to R. Pruna: You lied you had the capacity to manage the system
Omnia Trade Union members are dissatisfied with the statements made by Raluca Pruna. The Justice Minister stated before the CSM that, while at the ECHR, she lied about the budget for penitentiaries. Trade union members also claim the Justice Minister lied when claiming she had the capacity to manage the judiciary system too.
“Today, magistrates are dissatisfied, registrars are dissatisfied, penitentiary employees are dissatisfied. Only you are satisfied and ready to include in your resume a period in which you basically didn’t know what to do. Public opinion is dissatisfied and lawyers are dissatisfied. Even the inmates are dissatisfied. All for the same reason: you lied. You lied that you have the professional capacity to manage the judiciary. You don’t. You lied that you will solve the judiciary’s problems. You haven’t. And, very importantly, you lied people who – unlike you – will remain here to deal with the disaster you presided over with rarely seen arrogance and self-sufficiency. It’s no wonder you lied to the ECHR too, no matter how spectacular it would seem that you denounced yourself at the Superior Magistracy Council. The so-called technocrat Justice Minister lied the highest European court, and did that shortly after “it took people dying” for you to end up member of a Government. You should resign, but it would be too little for the level of imposture you represent,” reads the Omnia Trade Union’s press release.
Judges’ reaction after Justice Minister said she lied to ECHR: Statement will impact relations with other EU states
Dana Girbovan, President of the National Union of Romanian Judges (UNJR), wrote on her Facebook page on Sunday that Raluca Pruna’s statements, admitting that she lied to the ECHR about the budget allocated for penitentiaries, will impact Romania’s relations with other EU states in what concerns judiciary cooperation.
“When did the minister find out she was misled and what did she subsequently do in order to correct the false information relayed to the European Court of Human Rights. This is very important not just in order to maintain the credibility of the Romanian state and of its judiciary – how could one trust a state that takes the liberty to lie to the supreme court in matters of fundamental rights? – but also because by covering up the lie you mar the act of justice at high level. This shows the respect that the Romanian state has for the act of justice itself. Then, concretely and also very seriously, by acting in this way the state shows that it has no desire to solve the penitentiary issue, a real issue I wrote about in the past too, its only concern being to keep hidden this serious situation. I reiterate that numerous cases concerning detention conditions in the penitentiaries are pending at the ECHR, the ECHR having the possibility to start the pilot-decision procedure against Romania because of this reason. Consequently, it is important for Ms. Raluca Pruna to answer these questions: when did she find out about the lie and what did she do to correct it and its effects?” Dana Girbovan, President of the National Union of Romanian Judges, wrote on her Facebook page.
She added that the Justice Minister’s statement will also have an impact on judiciary cooperation relations with other European Union member states, because these relations are based on the premise that each member state trusts the judiciary systems of the other member states. Dana Girbovan wants an investigation urgently started.
“Who signed that document and what measures are being urgently taken to hold them accountable. As a sitting judge, when I’m asking for data or information from state institutions I want to have the firm conviction that they are real, because I base my ruling on them too. The possibility that a state institution would deliberately mislead a judge is really shocking, that is why it’s imperative to urgently open an investigation, the guilty punished and the consequences of the Justice Minister’s lie remedied,” Girbovan wrote.
Justice Ministry’s response
Concerning the statement made by Justice Minister Raluca Pruna during the Supreme Magistracy Council’s (CSM) meeting on October 6, in regard to the lack of funds for penitentiaries, the Justice Ministry made the following observations on Monday:
The statement was made in the context of the lack of investments for courts, the need to have these investments and the necessity for multi-annual budgeting;
The comparison with the penitentiary system and the funds allocated to it was made solely in order to underline the challenges we are facing when it comes to developing an infrastructure at the level of the whole judiciary system;
The proposal to build new penitentiaries appeared during the technical talks within the ministry, and during the debates on the actions that Romania can prepare in order to avoid a pilot decision being adopted by the ECHR;
Out of the desire to avoid the use of unrealistic figures, which could only have misled our ECHR partners, we stopped a memorandum which was prepared for the Government meeting on 19 January 2016 and which contained unrealistic estimates;
In exchange, we included in that memorandum (Memorandum I) the obligation for the ECHR agent and the institutions with which they collaborate (including the Justice Ministry) to present a new estimate, realistic and with an earmarked budget (Memorandum II);
The latter was approved by the Government on 27 April 2016. It concerns the construction of two penitentiaries by 2021, as well as the refurbishment of two others (by 2023);
Romania needs a predictable framework for the financing of investments in the judiciary system, primarily through a multi-annual budget;
It is good to publicly discuss this, even in a pre-elections context, because a political consensus liable to guarantee the necessary level of investments in the judiciary system is necessary, regardless of who will govern.
PSD deputies move simple motion on justice
Floor leader of the Social-Democratic MPs Florin Paslaru announced on Monday in the plenary sitting having filed a simple motion on justice, titled “Lies can kill too,” signed by 80 MPs.
Chamber of Deputies Speaker Florin Iordache said that a sitting of the Standing Bureau was scheduled for Monday evening to set the time for Tuesday’s debates, and that an initial proposition was for them to take place at 14:30 hrs.