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December 4, 2022

Chief Prosecutor Kovesi: Concern that DNA trumps up politically-driven case files is unjustified

“In the last three years, we have constantly witnessed overtures” to limit the powers of the National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA) and although “civil society intervened and it was possible for these plans to be stopped, a debate in this sense continues to exist, hence our concern,” DNA Chief Prosecutor Laura Codruta Kovesi stated in an interview published by the France Presse agency on Wednesday. She also claimed that “representatives have tried to amend laws in order to modify DNA’s prerogatives.”

“In the last three years, we have constantly witnessed such overtures,” Kovesi said when asked whether she fears attempts to limit DNA’s powers, Agerpres informs.

“The representatives tried to amend laws in order to modify DNA prerogatives, to decriminalise certain offences or to offer immunity to certain categories of persons. Civil society intervened and it was possible for these plans to be stopped. However, a debate in this sense continues to exist, hence our concern,” she added.

The DNA Chief Prosecutor also stated that “we need stability to efficiently fight corruption.” “If the legislation is modified, (…), if prosecutors will no longer be able to probe various offences, we will surely no longer have the same results. Only the prosecutors’ courage and their desire to accomplish their mission are irreversible, nobody will be able to change this,” Kovesi said.

“Our investigations have prompted a change of mentality. In the last two years, over 85 percent of our investigations were opened following notifications filed by persons or institutions. Citizens no longer want to pay bribes; an ever-growing number of civil servants are filing denunciations against corruption acts. This shows we are on the right track,” the DNA Chief Prosecutor also stated.

Asked to give an answer to those who accuse the DNA of “trumping up politically-driven case files,” Kovesi emphasised that “it is very hard to believe that a prosecutor who “trumps up” a case file can be covered by several courts and judges.”

“This concern is not justified. The prosecutor does not set convictions, he just forwards accusations to the judges who verify the legality of the evidence and the way the case file was handled before they issue a ruling, a ruling that can be challenged through appeal. I’m saying it categorically: there are no case files trumped up by prosecutors,” she added.

Asked about the main results that the DNA has registered in recent years, Kovesi stated that the institution she leads “has opened investigations into high-level corruption, a first both in what concerns the persons investigated as well as the sums paid as bribes.”

“Ministers, Senators, Lower Chamber lawmakers and other public officials were among the persons indicted,” she said, stressing that another objective attained by the DNA concerns the confiscation of illicit assets. “Last year, more than EUR 500 million were seized. Likewise, the DNA has obtained final convictions in over 90 percent of the cases, a sign of great efficiency,” the DNA Chief Prosecutor emphasised.

“If we look at the statistics, we see something has changed in Romania, particularly from the standpoint of mentality. The number of case files has risen, it has almost doubled compared to 2006-2007. We have an ever-growing number of persons indicted and persons convicted for corruption. If we look at it strictly from this standpoint, we could say corruption is on the rise. However, in my opinion, these statistics are showing a rise in DNA’s efficiency,” Kovesi added.

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