The National Union of Judges of Romania (UNJR) has published, on Monday, a letter on the extension of Romanian Intelligence Service (SRI) prerogatives in the judiciary, letter received from the Supreme Defence Council (CSAT) in February 2016, following a request formulated by the Union.
“In the context of the discussion on the involvement of the Romanian Intelligence Service in the judiciary, the National Union of Judges of Romania makes available to the public a document released to the association by the Supreme Defence Council on February 16, 2016, on the extension of SRI’s prerogatives in the judiciary. (…) The letter from the CSAT was received after, on December 8, 2015, the UNJR asked the Supreme Defence Council, on the basis of Law no. 544/2001 regarding access to public information, to communicate all the decisions that concern the relationship between the national intelligence services and the judiciary,” the UNJR release mentions.
According to the same source, CSAT’s official response shows that the prerogatives of the institutions empowered to fight corruption and organized crime have as central reference point Law 51/1991 regarding the national security of Romania.
“Arguing that the ‘drafting and adoption of Law no. 51/1991 was done during an incipient period of post-communist democracy, in which corruption did not gain the hallmarks of a phenomenon’, instead of modifying the law, as it would have been constitutional, in 2005 ‘CSAT integrated the problem of corruption in the structure of the National Security Strategy, as a risk factor and security objective’. This gimmick, to complete the law by secret decisions, represents a dangerous precedent for the rule of law, hindering citizens’ knowledge of the reach of a state institution’s prerogatives,” the UNJR release shows.
In the CSAT letter presented by the UNJR there is clear mention that the concept was later included in the National Security Strategy of 2010 too, which defined corruption as a vulnerability, and the Intelligence Strategy set down that “one of SRI’s main directions of action be that of signalling high-level corruption cases affecting the state’s policies, including for the purpose of preventing the corrupt persons’ access to public positions.”
In the opinion of the UNJR, this paragraph shows that the CSAT drew up tasks for the SRI that “are not in the known legal framework, such as the prevention of access of ‘corrupt persons’ to leadership positions, even though they were not convicted through a binding court decision.”
“Moreover, these prior checks, made by an intelligence service outside the criminal court framework, without an existing procedure and with the person checked having no possibility to know the content of the report in order to defend themselves from the accusations, were possibly applied in the case of leadership positions within the judiciary,” the release also mentions.
The CSAT letter also mentions that the relations of interinstitutional cooperation between intelligence services and criminal investigation bodies, in what regards the combating of corruption and organized crime, have materialized, among other things, in information exchanges with the Public Ministry and the establishment of joint teams to combat risks derived from criminal activities.
Kovesi says did not read UNJR’s statement, invokes SRI-DNA collaboration protocol
Asked for her comment on the UNJR letter, according to which CSAT allegedly gave SRI operational tasks that are not part of the known legal framework, National Anticorruption Directorate Chief Prosecutor Laura Codruta Kovesi stated in an interview for ziare.com that she did not read the UNJR statement and mentioned the protocol of collaboration between SRI and DNA.
“I haven’t read UNJR’s statement. What I can tell you is that, as part of our relationship of collaboration with SRI, we were receiving notifications in line with the law and then the prosecutors, based on a protocol signed with SRI, were asking SRI for more data and information. This data could only have been intelligence or certain recordings obtained based on a national security warrant. That’s how the collaboration worked.
“From the moment the prosecutor registered the criminal case, the entire criminal prosecution was handled by the prosecutor.
“When persons were accused, the lawyer had the right to take part in all procedural actions. All that the prosecutor was doing was seen by the lawyer too. In all cases handled by the DNA, all pre-trial measures ordered were verified by the judge from the standpoint of their legality.
“Once the case ended up in court, the preliminary chamber verified it from the standpoint of the way the evidence was administered, of its legality, after which the case was verified in substance by the judge.
“I’ve seen such statements about rigged cases, about activities breaking the law, made by holders of public offices, whether they were members of Parliament or directors of institutions, by representatives of NGOs.
“Any person who, in virtue of their prerogatives, got to know about criminal offences, about disciplinary offences, about the rigging of some cases, had the obligation to notify the judiciary bodies.
“How can you come 3-4 years later and say you knew cases were being rigged, the law was being broken by some DNA prosecutor, or by some judge or officer? The obligation is stipulated by law even now,” Laura Codruta Kovesi stated.