National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA) Chief Prosecutor Laura Codruta Kovesi, Directorate for the Investigation of Organised Crime and Terrorism (DIICOT) Chief Prosecutor Daniel Horodniceanu, General Prosecutor Augustin Lazar and Deputy General Prosecutor Bogdan Licu were summoned at the Justice Ministry on Monday to discuss with Justice Minister Florin Iordache financial issues such as the Public Ministry’s resources and budget for 2017.
General Prosecutor Augustin Lazar was the first to arrive at the Justice Ministry. “The working meeting concerns the Public Ministry’s resources, budget and logistical issues,” Lazar stated on his arrival.
Asked what is the stage of the case that the High Court of Justice’s Prosecutor’s Office started after Sebastian Ghita presented an audio recording in which Traian Basescu is heard talking about information he was receiving from ongoing court cases, Lazar said that prosecutors are doing “what has to be done in the case file, we can’t tell the press what is going on step-by-step in the case.” “Obviously, there are ongoing activities and they will be revealed at the appropriate moment,” Augustin Lazar added.
Shortly afterward, Deputy General Prosecutor Bogdan Licu arrived at the Justice Ministry. Before his meeting with the Justice Minister, he stated he hopes the 2017 budget would meet the Public Ministry’s requirements.
“We are hoping for a budget that would meet the Public Ministry’s requirements. We have investments to make. We do not have an estimated sum at this moment, we will talk with the Finance Ministry. This year’s priority is completing the works started on various Public Ministry local offices and, if we could, on secondary central offices for DIICOT. The current central office building is not enough, the personnel and the activities have grown, plus the technical service that must be established,” Bogdan Licu stated.
Asked whether a subpoena has been issued on Sebastian Ghita’s name, whom Romanian authorities have put on the international list of wanted fugitives, Licu stated he does not know because he is dealing with the Public Ministry’s administrative problems.
“We will see what this is about in the talks with the Justice Minister. We don’t have an agenda set, we will see what the minister wants to discuss. I believe we will know more when I come out. A modification of the Penal Code, an amnesty law. I don’t know what coordinates the talks will be based on, everything we know is from the press. I don’t know what the Government has in view at this moment. Our requests concern institutional development. Only half of what we wanted was imposed through the amendment law, DIICOT will continue to develop. We will need another headquarters,” DIICOT Director Daniel Horodniceanu stated on his arrival at the Justice Ministry.
Several gendarmes were posted outside the Justice Ministry before DNA Director Laura Codruta Kovesi arrived. This was Kovesi’s first public appearance after former MP Sebastian Ghita made a series of revelations about her and the judiciary in several video recordings released in recent weeks.
Kovesi did not answer the journalists’ questions, pointing out she would make statements after her meeting with the Justice Minister.
What the General Prosecutor says about lifting of CVM
Romanian General Prosecutor Augustin Lazar stated that the European Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM) is no longer necessary for magistrates, however the monitoring of politicians must continue.
“No pardon and amnesty law is needed because we have to combat criminality, we have some priorities in combating corruption, recovering the assets acquired by criminals, the proceeds of crime, and other such issues related to the nature of carrying out penal action and for which the prosecutors are paid,” General Prosecutor Augustin Lazar stated when leaving the Justice Ministry.
Asked whether the Penal Code should be modified, the General Prosecutor stated that there are some elements that should be clarified.
“The talk focused on the fact that a certain legislation would require certain elements of clarification. For example, the law that concerns the conflicts of interest. The text of the law was declared unconstitutional in relation to a certain issue, to commercial relations. I agree that that issue must be clarified, but it’s a very limited issue and can be easily clarified. Apart from that, the law is very good, it’s inspired from French legislation and, if you look at my comparative study, you will see there is a synthesis of judicial praxis which, in recent years, has clarified the jurisprudence in this domain. Based on the active actors of offence, we will be able to see, from local councillors, mayors, communal councillors, MPs and so on, in what situations someone is in conflict of interest. The legislation is clear from this standpoint and the jurisprudence is clear. This law is very good,” Augustin Lazar pointed out, adding that the politicians should be monitored.
“The lifting of the CVM in what concerns magistrates; I would like to tell you that the monitoring of magistrates would no longer be necessary, but a monitoring of politicians would. It’s a matter of political will. You know why. Magistrates are doing their duty and there are probably certain persons who would like to put their agenda into practice and would not need an issue standing in their way, such as the CVM mechanism,” the General Prosecutor added.
Augustin Lazar also said that the Public Ministry’s priorities continue to be combating corruption, the conflict of interest and also the actions that affect the national budget’s resources, such as the recovery of damages or money laundering.
The Cooperation and Verification Mechanism was introduced in 2006 and it monitors Romania and Bulgaria’s progress in combating corruption and reforming the judiciary.
Sofia and Bucharest accepted the CVM in mid-2000s, as a pre-condition for their EU accession on 1 January 2007.
According to these CVM reports, presented annually within the European Commission, Romania has registered better results in recent years, in contrast to Bulgaria.
DIICOT Director: After today’s talks with Justice Minister we realised we can collaborate well
“It was an informal discussion with the Justice Minister, in the presence of the heads of Romanian prosecutors’ offices. After today’s talks, we realised we can have a good collaboration. The projects are those that existed and continue to exist. They will be continued by the future minister,” the DIICOT Chief Prosecutor stated when he came out of the talks.
Likewise, asked whether DIICOT will receive more funds, Daniel Horodniceanu said “certainly, yes,” and “the projects started will be continued.”
The DIICOT Chief Prosecutor did not want to make any comments on the amnesty and pardon law.
In what concerns modifying the magistrates’ accountability, Horodniceanu stated there is a bill in Parliament in this sense but he did not read it so he has no opinion on it.
Black Cube investigation close to an end
DIICOT Director Daniel Horodniceanu stated on Monday that the “Black Cube” investigation into the harassment of DNA Chief Prosecutor Laura Codruta Kovesi is “nearing its end,” Agerpres informs.
The investigation into the Black Cube case “is ongoing,” being close to an end, he pointed out when queried by journalists.
On the other hand, the DIICOT Chief Prosecutor pointed out that the requests he brought to the Justice Minister mainly concerned “institutional development.”
“In principle, our requests concern institutional development, to the extent in which we will continue what we started last year, since only half of what we wanted was imposed through the amendment law. Natural steps for DIICOT to continue developing are up next. We will need a bigger budget, it is already entailed in the Justice Ministry’s Development Strategy 2015-2020, so it’s not a new problem,” Horodniceanu said.
Asked whether an amnesty and pardon law would be called for, he said he does not know what the Government is considering at this moment.
“I don’t know what coordinates the talks will be based on, everything we know is from the press. I don’t know what the Government has in view at this moment,” Horodniceanu said.
Amnesty and pardon law. Kovesi and Lazar oppose it
The Public Ministry’s leadership, as well as the leadership of the National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA), believes an amnesty and pardon law is not called for at this moment.
General Prosecutor Augustin Lazar believes that prosecutors have other priorities, while DNA Chief Prosecutor Laura Codruta Kovesi claims that if it were to become a reality, amnesty and pardon should not be offered for corruption crimes.
The statements were made after the meeting that the leadership of prosecutor’s offices had with the Justice Ministry.
“No pardon and amnesty law is needed because we have to combat criminality, we have some priorities in combating corruption, recovering the assets acquired by criminals, the proceeds of crime, and other such issues related to the nature of exercising penal action and for which the prosecutors are paid,” General Prosecutor Augustin Lazar stated.
“I don’t agree with a collective or individual amnesty or pardon law to be issued for crimes [whose prosecution is] within the DNA’s prerogatives,” Laura Codruta Kovesi stated in her turn.
Kovesi on Sebastian Ghita’s accusations: I won’t comment the statements of a fugitive defendant. I’ve notified CSM about tendentious statements. I’ve notified the CNA about 12 TV shows
DNA Chief Prosecutor Laura Codruta Kovesi stated on Monday, on her first public appearance since Sebastian Ghita’s revelations, that she will not comment on statements made by “a fugitive defendant” who, “from the rostrum of Parliament, accused the DNA through libellous and tendentious statements.”
“Let’s drop the ridiculous things, such as the purple owl and CIA chiefs. I’m not commenting on the statements of a fugitive defendant who has several case files, some of them currently handled by the DNA, others sent to court. A fugitive defendant who, from the rostrum of Parliament, accused the DNA through libellous and tendentious statement. (…) In what concerns the recent attacks on the judiciary, I have several comments to make. I would like you to notice that they are carried out by defendants who are investigated by the DNA, indicted by the DNA or even convicted, or by persons who are backing them. These attacks are carried out because the DNA had the audacity to bother the defendants. Although I made several institutional overtures, these attacks continued. Last year alone I filed 14 notifications with the CSM, regarding tendentious, libellous, deceitful, even ridiculous statements made by defendants we investigated. I notified the CNA [National Audio-visual Council] about 12 television shows and even yesterday I resumed the institutional dialogue with the CSM about the statements that were made publicly throughout December and early this year by several persons investigated by the DNA. I have notified the CSM,” Laura Codruta Kovesi stated after the Justice Minister’s meeting with the heads of prosecutor’s offices.
Kovesi stated that she presented the situation to Justice Minister Florin Iordache too.
“On my arrival, you saw me carrying a folder of documents; it contains data on all my overtures concerning these statements, I sent it to the General Prosecutor too, I sent it to the Justice Minister too. Some of these deceitful statements have already been checked as part of a criminal case and the ruling was to close the case. The minister invited us to a discussion on the DNA’s budget, concerning the need to help in what concerns human resources and the talks concerning the central offices the prosecutor’s offices need. I took advantage of the situation to put on his table all of those notifications, to show the massive attack that the judiciary is subjected to by defendants and persons we are investigating, and I have filed copies of all the institutional overtures,” the DNA Chief Prosecutor added.
In what concerns the whereabouts of Sebastian Ghita, Laura Codruta Kovesi stated: “I can’t confirm any information at this moment. In this case we ordered the conditional bail measure, we introduced the obligation not to leave the country, we ordered the carrying out of surveillance. All these measures should have been implemented and accomplished by MAI [Interior Ministry] structures; at this moment, MAI should answer how he managed to evade the surveillance. We took precautionary measures. It’s a measure ordered by the prosecutor, based on the information he had.”
In one of the former MP’s video recordings, he claims Nicolae Popa was brought from Indonesia with an airplane paid by a private company. Asked how was Nicolae Popa brought back to Romania, Kovesi stated: “The Justice Ministry and Interior Ministry handled this. Please ask them.”
While Kovesi was talking to the press, a man shouted “Resign!”
DNA’s Kovesi notifies Judicial Inspection regarding “tendentious and false” allegations made by Ghita
Chief-Prosecutor of the National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA) Laura Codruta Kovesi notified the Judicial Inspection in order to carry out checks if the statements of former Deputy Sebastian Ghita within some recordings presented on the Romania TV private television station, about which she believes are “tendentious and false.”
“Under the provisions of the article 75, paragraph (1) from the Law No. 303/2004, republished, with subsequent amendments and additions, regarding the statute of judges and prosecutors, the Chief Prosecutor of the DNA requests the Judicial Inspection to carry out controls regarding the situation found in respect to the statements made by Ghita Sebastian Aurelian (former Deputy sent to court in two cases for acts of corruptions or similar to corruption, who is also a defendant in another two cases for similar offenses, currently internationally wanted, in order to place him under pre-trial arrest) within a series of video recordings, consecutively presented on the Romania TV private television station in the period 28 December 2016 and 5 January 2017 and also taken by other media institutions,” the DNA release sent to AGERPRES on Monday reveals.
According to the DNA, the notification of the Judicial Inspection takes into account that “the tendentious and false allegations, made by a person who is currently a defendant in several cases (or pending trial at the High Court of Justice and Cassation, or is under investigation at the DNA) are likely to undermine the court authority and are likely to question the professional deontology of the magistrates.”
The DNA believes that Sebastian Ghita’s allegations seek to discredit the DNA and the activities of the institution’s Chief-Prosecutor, as well as the judicial system in general, by introducing to the public opinion the idea that the prosecutors activity isn’t carried out within the legal framework.
The DNA mentions that this demarche was brought to the knowledge of the Justice Minister and to the Prosecutor General.