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Bucharest
January 24, 2022
JUSTICE

CSM’s new leadership: Judge Mariana Ghena elected president, prosecutor Cristian Ban vice president. President Iohannis, strong indictment of law-breaking politicians New attacks on Liviu Dragnea and Calin Popescu Tariceanu

The new Superior Magistracy Council (CSM), which resulted following the elections in June-December, convened on Friday in order to elect its president and vice president.

With just one bid filed for each of the two offices, the election was a simple formality.

Mariana Ghena and Mihai Cristian Ban were elected unanimously and will lead the Superior Magistracy Council for one year.

Mariana Ghena represents the Supreme Court within the new CSM, while Cristian Mihai Ban is prosecutor within the Bucharest Court of Appeals Prosecutor’s Office, and was posted at the CSM in January 2017.

When presenting her management project, the new CSM President said that adopting a law on magistrates’ accountability is out of the question until working conditions that judges and prosecutors have in other European states are not attained.

New CSM President disagrees with magistrates’ accountability law

“In what concerns the much-discussed accountability of magistrates – the imminent legislative initiative -, it’s a sensitive issue even for you minister, in the activity you will carry out. We don’t want it, we only see this regulated as it is now,” Mariana Ghena said.

She pointed out that such a legislative initiative would be useful only after some conditions are met.

“Such an initiative can only come after a responsible assessment of the legislative framework, one that would call for this manner of accountability, after the implementation of a system of good laws for a good judiciary, after the real consultation of magistrates and after other manners of rendering the magistrates’ activity efficient are identified. I don’t believe and we don’t believe there is the need, at this moment, for a legislative initiative in this sense,” Mariana Ghena added.

The candidate for CSM’s leadership pointed out that such a law would be useful only after the magistrates’ working conditions match the standards seen in other civilised states.

“Until the magistrate – the judge, the prosecutor – benefits from all material conditions, human resources conditions, the optimal volume of activity; for instance, in European states there are judges that have two or three cases per month. We are far from this reality, but maybe when we will have the entire framework that offers security, that offers working conditions so that the magistrate can avoid making mistakes, then maybe such an initiative would be in store. Until then, we do not support such a point of view,” Mariana Ghena stated within the plenum of the new CSM.

Justice Minister Florin Iordache stated before the meeting that a magistrates’ accountability law is needed and could enter Parliament’s debate in February at the latest, after he has talks with the representatives of the judiciary.

The Senate unanimously confirmed, on December 27, the list of magistrates elected members of the CSM.

The list consisted of: Marcu Simona Camelia – High Court of Justice (ICCJ), Ghenea Mariana – ICCJ, Savonea Lia – Bucharest Court of Appeals, Tint Nicoleta Margareta – Brasov Court of Appeals, Chis Andrea Annamaria – Cluj Court of Appeals, Baltag Gabriela – Neamt Court, Oprina Evelina Mirela – Ilfov Court, Balan Mihai Andrei – Timisoara Court, Mateescu Mihai Bogdan – Ramnicu Valcea Court, Olaru Codrut – ICCJ Prosecutor’s Office, Ban Cristian Mihai – Bucharest Court of Appeals Prosecutor’s Office, Deac Florin – Maramures Court Prosecutor’s Office, Solomon Nicolae Andrei – Bucharest Court Prosecutor’s Office, Toader Tatiana – Bucharest District 2 Court Prosecutor’s Office.

The list was confirmed through secret ballot, with 113 votes in favour and no votes against.

CSM has 19 members, 14 of whom are elected by the magistrates’ general assemblies and confirmed by the Senate.

CSM also has two representatives of civil society, who take part only in its plenum meetings, and 3 by-right members – the Justice Minister, the president of the High Court of Justice and the Prosecutor General.

CSM members serve a single six-year term.

On 14 November 2016, the CSM plenum took note of CSM President Mircea Aron’s retirement request. He is set to collect a monthly pension of RON 24,000. Aron was CSM member from 1998 to 2002, and returned to the Council in January 2011.

 

President Iohannis: Amnesty and pardon law would be catastrophic for Romanian democracy

 

The festivity marking the new CSM membership was also attended by President Klaus Iohannis. In his speech, the President presented a strong indictment against law-breaking politicians who are trying to take the magistrates’ place by resorting to public sentencing.

President Klaus Iohannis on Friday said that an amnesty and pardon law would be catastrophic for the Romanian democracy, showing that he will oppose it, should such a regulatory act end up on his desk.

“Such a demarche, an amnesty and pardon law that would whitewash not only some thieves who can be dangerous for people and maybe even for society, but that would clean up the politicians’ records as well, would be catastrophic for Romanian democracy, Mr. Justice Minister,” Iohannis said at the Supreme Council of Magistrates (CSM) meeting.

He announced he would oppose such a measure.

“In the event of such an initiative, I would oppose it with all the weight and power of the presidential office. I hope there would be no need for that. I said these things publicly, in front of you, in order to reduce the probability of such a demarche,” the Head of State said.

In his speech, the President also stated that he “can’t help but notice” that the Lower Chamber Speaker is criminally convicted, while the Senate Speaker is indicted, which represents “a worrisome circumstance.”

President Klaus Iohannis stated on Friday at the CSM, against the backdrop in which he warned against a potential amnesty and pardoning law, that he “can’t help but notice” that the Lower Chamber Speaker is criminally convicted, while the Senate Speaker is indicted, which represents “a worrisome circumstance.”

“I can’t help but notice: the Lower Chamber Speaker is a criminally convicted person targeted by an ongoing criminal probe; the Senate Speaker is a person indicted for perjury. This is a worrisome circumstance,” Iohannis said.

He made the statements while warning against a potential pardoning and amnesty law, stating that there are politicians who have made “a desideratum” out of it.

Iohannis said that such a law is a “desideratum” of some politicians but is unacceptable, especially since the “whitewashing” of some politicians’ legal case files can also be raised.

“Such a precedent would result in the disappearance of equality before the law. That is why I’m saying it would lead to the disappearance of the rule of law in Romania. It would take Romania on a trajectory that moves it away from European values, a trajectory that would move it away from the Euro Atlantic values Romanians believe in,” Iohannis said.

The President said he would oppose such a law “with all the weight and power of the presidential office.”

“Such a demarche, an amnesty and pardon law that would whitewash not only some thieves who can be dangerous for people and maybe even for society, but that would clean up the politicians’ records as well, would be catastrophic for Romanian democracy, Mr. Justice Minister,” Iohannis said looking at Justice Minister Florin Iordache, also present at the meeting.

Iohannis started his speech by telling Iordache that he hopes he “wouldn’t take this personally,” but that he noticed talks are starting on the topic of amnesty and pardoning.

“Of course, some will say the President is now talking nonsense, that there is no intention to do such a thing, but I believe the President should say things preventively too,” the President warned.

He also stated that he hopes “there would be no need” for such a law and that is precisely why he felt the need to make public statements.

“Some could say sure, no problem, the prisons are full, many international bodies are accusing us of not doing anything [about it], we don’t have money because we need schools, let’s set them free. It’s just that I believe these good intentions are not only in this domain, I fear there are criminally prosecuted, criminally convicted politicians who would salute such a law that would solve all of their problems,” Iohannis added.

The President warned that such an overture would lead to “the toppling of the rule of law” and to the emergence of the risk that “democracy would disappear in Romania,” News.ro informs.

 

“No democracy can function without independent judiciary”

 

Judiciary’s independence is fundamental in a democracy, and nobody is above the law, President Klaus Iohannis also said at the Supreme Council of Magistrates (CSM) meeting on Friday.

The Head of State invoked Article 133 paragraph 1 of the Constitution which says that CSM is the guarantor of judiciary’s independence.

“It is hard to find a more difficult task described in fewer words. This is your task, to guarantee judiciary’s independence. Why is this independence of the judiciary so important? Not only is it important, it is fundamental. No democracy, no rule of law can function without an independent judiciary. Independent judiciary means (…) that no one must interfere with the judges’ and prosecutors’ business, but also that (…) no one is above the law,” Iohannis said.

He went on saying that “no one has ever imagined that a mere thief has the pretension to be above the law.”

“There are some who are truly under the impression that maybe they deserve to be above the law and I am referring to persons who usually hold public offices. This is unconceivable,” the President said.

Klaus Iohannis recalled that the rule of law is a notion that has been intensely circulated in Romania lately, highlighting that it requires everyone’s involvement.

“A powerful democracy without rule of law, without an independent judiciary, doesn’t exist. (…) The judicial system cannot maintain its independence on its own. The entire state apparatus, all state institutions must not only be aware of the importance of this, but must also get actively involved in supporting the judiciary maintaining its independence. A vulnerable judicial system is what Romania’s enemies want, because if the judiciary becomes vulnerable nothing stands in Romania any more. If the rule of law becomes lopsided, then democracy disappears within short time,” he said.

President Iohannis pointed out that domestic stability and security are possible only in a rule of law with an independent judiciary.

“Let no one imagine, even if it seems to me that some really believe this, that in our geographical region a powerful national state can be built without an independent judiciary. I believe this is impossible and that Romania under no circumstance wants to experiment such thing,” the Head of State also told magistrates.

 

“Refuse political interference in act of justice”

 

Klaus Iohannis asked the magistrates to refuse the politicians’ interference in the act of justice.

“When you feel the pressure gets too high, be dignified, not obedient, and with all required politeness and firmness refuse the political interference in the act of justice, only this way can we build a dignified, strong Romania,” Iohannis also said at the Supreme Council of Magistrates meeting.

Iordache: Amnesty law must be discussed in Parliament, you can’t call it a catastrophe if you don’t know how it looks

When leaving the CSM meeting, Justice Minister Florin Iordache said that the amnesty and pardoning law must be discussed in Parliament and one cannot say it is “a catastrophe” before one gets to read the text of the law. Referring to Iohannis’s statement about Liviu Dragnea and Calin Popescu-Tariceanu, Iordache stated that the two “are respecting legal provisions” and “the presumption of innocence” is not defeated.

“Both the amnesty law, as far as I know the pardoning law too – the latter was in 2002; this law must be discussed in Parliament, you can’t call it a catastrophe if you don’t know how this law looks,” Iordache said.

Asked for his opinion on the fact that the Lower Chamber Speaker is criminally convicted and the Senate Speaker is indicted, as Iohannis pointed out at the CSM meeting, Iordache answered: “If the law allows it, do you think the presumption of innocence is defeated by anything? It’s not defeated by anything, and as long as there are very clear provisions in the Lower Chamber and the Senate’s regulations, I believe both of them are respecting legal provisions.”

 

Heads of the ICCJ and prosecutor’s offices: Amnesty law not a priority

 

An amnesty law should not be drafted hastily just to answer the temporary interests of some, High Court of Justice (ICCJ) President Cristina Tarcea stated. Prosecutor General Augustin Lazar stated, in his turn too, that the amnesty law is not a priority, News.ro informs.

ICCJ President Cristina Tarcea said that the amnesty law is a criminal law institution and pardoning is part of the state’s policy, but it should not be adopted anyhow and anywhere, but only following detailed sociological and criminology studies. “Several circumstances concerning the nature and severity of the crimes have to be considered. It’s not a law that should be adopted hastily, that should answer the temporary interests of some,” Cristina Tarcea stated after the CSM meeting.

She also pointed out that in the case of mass-media’s attacks against magistrates, CSM discussed a legislative modification in the sense that “such an action would be followed by sanctions.”

“An amnesty law is a priority even less. We have to fight corruption, organised crime,” Prosecutor General Augustin Lazar said in his turn too. The opinion was shared by the new heads of CSM – judge Mariana Ghena and prosecutor Cristian Ban.

 

Calin Popescu Tariceanu: I refuse the conflict Klaus Iohannis is trying to start

 

Senate Speaker Calin Popescu Tariceanu stated that President Klaus Iohannis would have had a different speech had he accepted his offer to join a PNL-USR-PMP ruling coalition, pointing out that he refuses “the conflict he is trying to start.”

“I suspect that had I accepted Klaus Iohannis’s “offer” to join the ruling coalition in a PNL-USR-PMP alliance the President would have had a different discourse about me now. Unfortunately, he continues the elections campaign discourse and attacks those whom he considers political opponents. The campaign is over and the President should respect the Romanians’ vote.

“For me and for my ALDE and PSD colleagues the campaign is over and the important thing is for us to take the measures that Romanians are expecting, starting with the hiking of the minimum salary, the hiking of pensions and the fiscal and de-bureaucratisation measures for the local business environment.

“Yes, I want the President to be a partner in the projects for Romania, starting with supporting the “rule of law state” not the “stand at attention state” he currently supports. I would like to hear the Romanian President supporting a law that would strictly regulate phone tapping and would penalise the three-letter agencies’ excesses and abuses.

“I refuse the conflict that Klaus Iohannis is trying to start, because Romanians are sick and tired of conflicts. I’m only hoping that the President will understand the moment Romania is in and the constitutional role he has,” Tariceanu wrote on Facebook.

 

Ponta about Iohannis after his speech at CSM: The establishment’s slave

 

Ex-Premier Victor Ponta reacted harshly to the speech that President Klaus Iohannis gave at the meeting marking the new membership of the Superior Magistracy Council.

“When, in 2014, I said that he will be BASESCU no.2, I was far too optimistic!!! He’s worse – the slave of the Establishment, blackmailable from day one, bearer of grudges, vengeful and completely bereft of any human feeling. Plus a know-nothing and arrogant person! How are we, those who did not vote for him, to blame?!??,” Victor Ponta wrote on his Facebook page.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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