*Despite some opinions admitting there have been mixed operative teams, DNA denies any cooperation with SRI
The National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA) states in a release issued on Friday that DNA Chief Prosecutor Laura Codruta Kovesi didn’t attend the video-conferences organized by the Romanian Intelligence Service (SRI), adding that there is not and there never has been any collaboration protocol between the SRI and the DNA, or any secret protocol between Coldea and Kovesi, or SRI – prosecutors mixed teams or meetings between prosecutors and intelligence officers in safe houses.
The DNA issued a press release regarding the information which appeared in some articles published in the period 25 – 27 January in the daily newspaper “Evenimentul Zilei” and on the internet page www.flux24.ro, which were presenting as disclosures information about “fabricating or staging some criminal cases” or “criminal prosecutions on demand” made by the DNA, at the initiative and/or with the involvement of some politicians and some people from the leadership of the SRI, as well as using some methods that exceed the legal framework, in exercising the office duties by Chief Prosecutor of the DNA Laura Codruta Kovesi.
“The respective pieces of information are false, offensive and absurd and they are meant to discredit the activity of the DNA prosecutors, as they used as a strategy by the persons interested to formulate defenses in the public space and not in front of a court,” the DNA reveals.
Those articles, whom DNA deems to be “denigrating”, claimed that: “on Monday morning, General Coldea organizes weekly meetings with the heads of all SRI units and he includes also Mrs. Kovesi in these meetings. One of the meetings took place in the SRI offices, in December, 2013. Kovesi joined the meeting by video conference. There was such a working manner, according to the secret cooperation protocol between SRI and DNA. Through SRI, Florian Coldea and DNA, through Laura Codruta Kovesi, were monitoring all the important politicians, journalists, businessmen, under the pretext of the national security. Since the equipment from the DNA chief’s office wasn’t compatible with the one used by the SRI units, the SRI specialists installed a SRI terminal in Laura Codruta Kovesi’s office, and she was instantly communicating to Florian Coldea through it. Since 2014, the video conference system between SRI and DNA functioned intensely, the discussions being held even more times a week, as Florian Coldea was interested by the situation of certain defendants or by the files directly instrumented by the DNA chief”.
“The above mentioned information are totally untrue: DNA Chief-Prosecutor didn’t participate to video conferences held by SRI, weekly or from time to time, and she doesn’t have special terminals installed in her office, through which she can instantly communicate with SRI. There is not and there was not any cooperation protocol between SRI and DNA, or a secret protocol between Coldea and Kovesi. There were no mixed teams formed by SRI and prosecutors, or meetings of the prosecutors with the intelligence officers in safe houses” states the National Anticorruption Directorate.
Prosecutors state that criminal files are instrumented by strictly relating to the Criminal Code, Criminal Procedure Code and Law no.78/2000.
DNA underlines that, in principle, prosecutor’s role is to unravel the criminal matters, to establish if there was any corruption offense committed in the case, to collect evidences in the prosecution and defense, to submit the case to the curt, to exercise the remedies entitles him to provide, to take the precautionary measures provided by the law to avoid the disappearance of the goods that should be confiscated by the court.
“Neither Criminal Procedure Code, nor any other special law applicable for the prosecution of the corruption deeds provide the involvement of any intelligence service in how to obtain evidence in criminal files. The evidence is managed by the prosecutor and by the judicial police officers based on the prosecutor’s delegation. No intelligence officer takes part to the hearing of any witness made by the prosecutor or by the police officer, or to the administration of any other evidence. According to the law, the role of the intelligence services is to notify the prosecutor on the information held by them, related to corruption deeds. Until the Constitutional Court issued the Decision no 51/16.02.2016, the law gave to SRI the attribution to execute the technical surveillance mandates ordered by the judicial body, an attribution that it doesn’t have since that time. SRI or other intelligence services doesn’t have any attribution in effectively conducting the prosecution. It is the competence of the prosecutor and of the judicial police officers delegated by him to hear witnesses, suspects, defendants, injured parties and civil parties and to administer any other evidence”, DNA explains.
“Not only that the practices to which the articles in the media refer to are absurd, but there are sufficient provisions in the Criminal Procedure Code designed to protect the procedural rights of the investigated persons from any illegal investigation methods. The complaint against the measures taken or the actions performed by the prosecutor or performed based on his orders is solved by the superior prosecutor. Furthermore, all the evidence gathered during prosecution, their legality and the legality of the prosecutor’s actions are checked by the judge in the preliminary chamber procedure”, DNA states.
In addition, the quoted source states, until a final conviction decision is taken, if there will be one, criminal files go through the filter of several magistrates (the judge of freedoms, the preliminary chamber judge, the judge who judges the merits and the panel of appeal).
“Therefore, to circulate such untrue information places not only DNA prosecutors in a bad light, but it also creates doubts that are hard to be removed on the legality and fairness of the functioning of the whole judiciary” the National Anticorruption Directorate underlines.
The DNA also announced that it demanded the Superior Council of Magistracy (CSM) to carry out controls in order to establish to what extent, through the information sent, the independence of the judicial system and the reputation of magistrates were affected, based on the provisions of the article 75, the paragraph (1) of the Law No. 303/2004, republished, with the subsequent amendments and additions, regarding the statute of judges and prosecutors.
Kovesi in 2013: We have a protocol through which our cooperation has been developed and we make joint teams on certain cases
But Evenimetul Zilei reminds that the Head of DNA, Laura Codruta Kovesi, who now denies the existence of the protocol between SRI and DNA, admitted in 2013that such a cooperation exists. In an interview given at that time to the journalists of Evenimentul Zilei, DNA Chief boasted that there are joint teams with the secret services on certain cases.
At that time, Kovesi said: “We have many notices that we receive from SRI, we have a protocol through which our cooperation has been developed and we make joint teams on certain cases. They support us in everything that investigation and implementing wiretaps activities mean”.
Prosecutor General: “There was a protocol between prosecutors and secret services. We don’t continue with such tricks”
On the other hand, the Prosecutor General, Augustin Lazar, stated in one of the last sessions of the Superior Council of Magistracy (CSM), to which the professional associations of magistrates also participated, that there was a protocol between prosecutors and secret services, and in particular with SRI, by which mixed teams of investigation were formed by prosecutors and intelligence officers.
But Augustin Lazar said that since he is in office, the protocol doesn’t exist anymore: “It’s true that there was a protocol which doesn’t exist anymore. I believe it’s also my fault, not to communicate, not to making a big deal when I took the seat, and say: There is no protocol anymore providing mixed committees or mixed teams or whatever. There was a protocol in which operative teams between Public ministry and intelligence services were established, but I’ve always put this question to myself: this protocol doesn’t exist, I didn’t assume it and we’re not continuing with such tricks, so to say, since they are not included in the Criminal Procedure Code, my God… We investigate, and you judge relying on the Criminal Procedure Code. There’s nothing else to establish mixed teams or whatever”.
Prosecutor General also stated that he doesn’t see the role of the mixed teams: “What this mixed committee should do? Nothing… Especially now… we are privileged to have a legal framework indicating very clear that intelligence officers have no attributions even in the matter of the wiretaps, operative surveillance etc.”
CSAT recognized “the mixed teams”
Recently, National Union of Judges of Romania (UNJR) published a document of the Supreme Council of National Defense (CSAT) on the relationship between the intelligence services and judiciary. Regarding the relationship between prosecutors and intelligence services, CSAT mentioned that the interinstitutional cooperation relationships have materialized in “building mixed teams with representatives of the prosecution bodies, in order to prevent the risks deriving from criminal activities”.
Former President Basescu also announced SRI’s involvement in the criminal investigations
The existence of “mixed teams” formed by SRI and prosecutors was announced by President Traian Basescu in an interview dated May 2014, when he said that “CSAT issued a decision mentioning all the institutions with responsibilities in identifying and fighting against this process, but it seriously makes SRI responsible. A decision of CSAT which mentions, for instance, that mixed structures between Prosecutors, SRI and Police are mandatory at various levels, from identifying and fighting against corruption in Justice, to fighting against tax evasion”.
SRI Director: “There have been cooperation protocols”
Last but not least, SRI Director Eduard Hellvig stated on January 25, that there have been cooperation protocols with the law enforcement bodies, but SRI Officers only provided special technical assistance, based on and within the limits of the law.
“There have been cooperation protocols with the law enforcement bodies, following the decisions taken by the decision-makers. I can tell you that SRI has provided, under these protocols, special technical assistance, and it hasn’t performed criminal investigation activities. In other words, applying the mandates meant providing operative, technical surveillance services in these cases, based on and within the limits of the mandates. The cooperation with the law enforcement bodies is currently made by complying with the CCR decision since March, 2016” Eduard Hellvig stated after the hearings in the Parliamentary Control Committee on SRI’s Activity.
PM Grindeanu: These things should be clarified and discussed in CSAT
Prime Minister Sorin Grindeanu stated on Sunday evening that the matter of the protocols concluded by the National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA) with various governmental institutions should be clarified.
Asked at Antena 3 private television broadcaster whether he will approach with the Minister of Justice the matter of protocols which the DNA has concluded with various governmental institutions, the Prime Minister answered: “I believe that the whole matter should be clarified. First of all, I understood that the Minister of Justice will discuss with those who have said that there are such protocols. I understood that there are such protocols and this matter is confirmed by a statement released by the Prosecutor General (…) and not only. I asked the Minister of Justice to clarify these aspects.”
According to the Prime Minister, this matter should be discussed in the Supreme Council for National Defence (CSAT).
“All these matters (…) I think they should, the moment they are clarified – in our point of view and particularly of the Ministry of Justice – be discussed in the CSAT, to see how we got in this situation, so that these matters, which I think they exceed the legal framework in our country, be clarified,” Grindeanu has also stated.
DNA requests firm reaction of CSM face to ‘unprecedented attacks’ to anti-corruption prosecutors
The National Anti-corruption Directorate (DNA) launched on Monday a plea in which it requests the members of the Superior Council of Magistracy (CSM) to evince a firm reaction to “the unprecedented attacks aimed at anti-corruption prosecutors”, informs a press release.
The attacks are launched by “media trusts partisan of some political groups or business interest groups, together with people who were convicted or are under DNA investigation,” the release adds.
“In the context in which very serious and hazardous affirmations are launched that cases are being forged, DNA prosecutors continue to do their job and identify criminal aspects, to gather evidence in order to bring to justice people who break the law, and to seize the unlawfully obtained goods. However, the document draws attention to the fact that all this media climate has not been and is not favourable to the justice act, and without a reaction, it risks to seriously undermine the judges’ authority and question the magistrates’ professional deontology,” further reads the DNA release.
According to the cited source, in the last year, a number of 24 notifications were formulated regarding the defence of the judiciary system’s independence and notices that were sent to Chief Prosecutor of Romania.
“It is unprecedented how media trusts partisan of some political groups or business interest groups, together with people who were convicted or are under DNA investigation make daily numerous public statements and comments, through which DNA prosecutors are stigmatized, slandered, aspects of their private life are exposed. All this media climate has not been and is not favourable to the justice act, but DNA prosecutors continue to do their duty, (…) and in order to defend themselves against these attacks they resort to legal instruments which provide for the possibility to address the Superior Council of Magistracy to look for defence of their reputation or independence,” the DNA plea mentions.
According to the same source, stronger counterattack mechanisms would be necessary, considering that very serious and hazardous affirmations are launched that cases are being forged.
“We find ourselves in the situation that DNA prosecutors are bullied with serious, profoundly offensive and absurd accusations in the talk-shows of certain television channels, tabloid sites or newspapers partisan to certain trends and interest groups, so it can be said that there is pressure exerted by people under investigation on prosecutors and DNA likely to seriously undermine judicial authority and to put into question the professional ethics of magistrates,” reads the call addressed to CSM.