During the Supreme Magistracy Council’s (CSM) plenary meeting on Tuesday, judge Gabriela Baltag asked for the meeting’s order of the day to be supplemented with the proposal to lodge with the Justice Ministry an address asking it for explanations on the SIPA Archives situation. Her overture was backed by the Supreme Court President. The members of the CSM were expected to put the proposal up for vote.
“The Justice Ministry can clarify this, because the Justice Ministry is the custodian of this archive, at least apparently. Whether it was kept, sealed off, the official transfer reports… the CSM must know all these aspects. That’s why I subject to your attention lodging with the Justice Ministry an address covering these aspects,” Gabriela Baltag stated.
She added that she heard there were a series of leaks, investigated as part of a criminal lawsuit, and she would like to know the stage of the investigations. “And, of course, also coming from the public space, allegedly there is even a criminal case regarding these leaks and we may believe something did happen. Those who were part of the inventory commission or of one of the inventory commissions are talking, former Justice Ministers made statements too. Allegedly there is a criminal file. If this criminal file exists, what stage is it in? What precisely is the Prosecutor General’s Office investigating? It’s good for the CSM to know this aspect too,” Baltag added.
The judge’s proposal was also backed by Supreme Court President Cristina Tarcea.
“I fully endorse the judge’s overture. I agree with the proposal she made. For the time being we have no information apart from what circulated in the public space. It seems the desire would be for the problem that concerns aspects related to the independence of the judiciary [to publicly circulate too], which would be liable to draw our competence in this matter. But in order to decide in an informed manner and in line with the law, we should indeed know, in our turn too, the situation of the SIPA archives, whether they were handed over, inventoried, to whom they were handed over, who inventoried them and what happened to them,” Tarcea pointed out before the CSM voted on the proposal.
Supreme Court President: SIPA Archives should be declassified to remove suspicions
Before the CSM meeting, Tarcea stated that the SIPA Archives should be declassified to remove the suspicions that have shadowed these documents for 15 years.
“I believe solving this problem for good is called for, in order to eliminate any kind of suspicion and discussion on this topic. I nevertheless have seniority in the magistracy and for at least 15 years now I keep hearing only discussions about SIPA. I believe it’s time to solve this. (…) Solving it means first of all declassifying the archives, because it’s more difficult to solve this problem if these documents continue to be classified,” judge Cristina Tarcea stated.
CSM to ask JusMin and Prosecutor General if any case concerning SIPA has been opened. Tarcea confirms decision
The Supreme Magistracy Council (CSM) will lodge with the Justice Ministry and the Prosecutor’s Office attached to the High Court of Cassation and Justice (PICCJ) an address asking whether any case concerning the SIPA Archives has been opened. The Supreme Court President has confirmed that the CSM plenum has decided to lodge with the Justice Ministry an address asking for details on the SIPA Archives, judicial sources stating for MEDIAFAX that the CSM plenum will lodge a similar address with the Prosecutor General’s Office too.
“It has been decided to lodge an address with the Justice Ministry, asking the latter for details on the SIPA Archives, so that, based on this, after we get to know the exact situation, we would know how to act. We asked for information about the SIPA Archives, about what happened after 2005 when the disbanding of the SIPA Archives was ordered, whether there was an inventory, whether there were reports, where were they sent, all details of this kind. Indeed, there was a draft Government decision that sought to regulate this aspect, but precisely because these aspects were not elucidated and we did not know what happened since 2005, and against the backdrop of an elections campaign within the judiciary, it was decided to postpone this topic. I hope now it would be solved once and for all. It must be seen whether we will be offered [data], and depending on the data we will be given, we will act accordingly. I don’t know what the SIPA archives contain, I was judge during that period in which the existence of this service was known and there were serious fears on the part of the judges, in the sense that the data contained by these archives could influence, one way or another, a judge’s career and professional life. It must be seen, precisely because there were these fears and suspicions, we must get to the bottom of this,” High Court of Cassation and Justice President Cristina Tarcea stated at the end of the CSM meeting.
EvZ claims SIPA Archive documents were copied to blackmail magistrates
‘Evenimentul Zilei’ (EvZ) wrote on Monday that a part of the SIPA archives – which allegedly ranges from 10,000 to 21,000 documents, including 3,000 dossiers on magistrates – was copied, while some documents were stolen and even destroyed. In an article published on evz.ro, Dan Andronic claims the archives were copied while they were being inventoried by the commission appointed by Monica Macovei. Judge Cristi Danilet and National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA) prosecutor Paul Dumitriu were members of the commission.
The Independent Service for Protection and Anticorruption (SIPA) was established in 1991, as a structure subordinated to the General Directorate of Penitentiaries, and was tasked with monitoring events within penitentiaries. In 1997, Justice Minister Valeriu Stoica made SIPA subordinate to the Justice Ministry. Stoica’s argument – the Service should deal with protecting magistrates too.
Seven years later, following press reports that former Securitate officers were appointed at the helm of SIPA and that the secret service was engaged in political police actions, the Service became the General Directorate for Protection and Anticorruption (DGPA). Moreover, it was forced to present activity reports in Parliament.
In 2006, Monica Macovei ordered the disbanding of the DGPA, arguing it engaged in abuses and the Justice Ministry did not need a secret service. Last year, the Justice Ministry launched for public consultation a draft on the unsealing of the DGPA Archives. The National Union of Judges however opposed the proposal.
Incumbent Justice Minister Tudorel Toader stated on Monday that he is not aware of anyone copying magistrates’ dossiers from these archives, however he will check whether this happened and in case the culprits are established they should be held accountable.
Liviu Dragnea: My confidence in Justice Minister Tudorel Toader will be “close to nil” unless he declassifies SIPA Report
PSD President Liviu Dragnea stated on Monday that his confidence in Justice Minister Tudorel Toader will be “close to nil” unless he declassifies a Justice Ministry report drafted in 2007, concerning the disappearance of some documents from the SIPA Archives.
“I’ll be very brief and I’m saying this with the respect appropriate for his career and professional background: if on this topic concerning the new scandal – the newest scandal that has now emerged with the SIPA Archives –, if he doesn’t even make the gesture of declassifying the report, then my confidence in him will be close to nil,” Dragnea stated on Antena 3 on Monday.
“If he does it then it means he’s of good faith and he’s a fair man who really wants to take part in this project we have started after 11 December,” Dragnea added.
The PSD leader added that in 2007 the Justice Minister drafted a report on the disappearance of some dossiers from the SIPA Archives.
“I believe the incumbent Justice Minister can declassify at least that report, in a first stage,” Dragnea pointed out.
According to the PSD leader, the fact that someone may have used information from the SIPA Archives to blackmail magistrates or influence court rulings represents one of “the ugliest things that have happened in Romania in recent years.”
“And maybe, indeed, if that’s the case – and unfortunately it seems it may be – this could be one of the several instruments used by the establishment, the duo, the trio and so forth,” Dragnea argued.
Dana Girbovan: SIPA, the Service used to monitor and blackmail magistrates. It’s time light is shed
National Union of Romanian Judges (UNJR) President Dana Girbovan claims, in a Facebook posting, that it’s time for light to be shed on the SIPA case, a secret service she claims “was chock-full of Securitate officers” and was used “to monitor and blackmail magistrates.”
“Once again there is talk about SIPA – a secret military service part of the Justice Ministry, which was chock-full of Securitate officers and which was used to monitor and blackmail magistrates. SIPA is a topic that appears systematically in the public space, is debated for several days and is then buried again, to resurface recurrently. It’s time light is shed on this case. For 27 years since the fall of communism we continue to operate, in various sectors of society, including in the judiciary, with institutions and mentalities inherited from the communist regime. The UNJR had constant positions in favour of the clarification of the SIPA issue, filing numerous requests in this sense with the qualified institutions. For a truly independent judiciary, we also need to shed light on the SIPA case,” judge Dana Girbovan wrote on Facebook.
The UNJR President claims that ex-Justice Minister Raluca Pruna “did not want the declassification of that archive, instead she wanted the intelligence ‘of operational interest’ collected by SIPA ‘transferred to the qualified institutions.’ Namely also for the compromising information on magistrates to be transferred, legally this time, to ‘the qualified institutions,’ without pointing them out.”
Ex-Justice Minister Raluca Pruna: Qualified institutions did not show interest in inventorying the archive
The former Justice Minister claims that the qualified institutions did not show an interest in inventorying the archive.
“As a minister, I was unable to promote a Government decision on inventorying the SIPA Archives, even though I placed a draft under public consultation, a draft that revived an initiative belonging to Minister Mona Pivniceru. The CSM did not issue an approval and the ICCJ did not want to chair the inventory commission. Moreover, the relevant associations of magistrates publicly asked for the draft to be withdrawn. The Ciolos Government whose member I was did not promote any Government decision regarding SIPA and nobody entered this archive during my term. As a digression, the public should know who entered this archive, how and during the mandate of what minister. Under the current legislation, without inventorying the archive we’ll be in the same point ten years from now too. That of speculation and of invoking SIPA when bungling criminal prosecutions. (…) The archive cannot be burned – as some magistrates were demanding, to my stupefaction –, it must be inventoried instead. And the biggest guarantee is the presence of some magistrates within the inventory commission,” Raluca Pruna wrote on her Facebook page on Monday evening.
Presidential Spokesperson Dobrovolschi: Legislation in force must be observed and enforced
President Spokesperson Madalina Dobrovolschi stated on Tuesday, on the topic of the press allegations concerning the SIPA Archives, that there are laws currently in force that must be enforced in this case, “qualified persons” who can analyse the revelations, and the legislation must be observed to the letter.
“I can only tell you that there is a very clear legislation that is applicable in this case. There are persons qualified to make all the overtures in this situation. The Romanian President is not the one who classified this information and, obviously, the Presidential Administration has no prerogatives in the field of classification and declassification. Simply put, the legislation in force must be observed and enforced to the letter,” she said when asked about the SIPA Archives.
Danilet notifies Prosecutor General’s Office about information included in article on SIPA Archives
Judge Cristi Danilet announced on his Facebook account that he has notified the Prosecutor General’s Office about the information included in the article on the SIPA Archives, article that ‘Evenimentul Zilei’ published, his notification concerning “the illegal possession or leaking of information from the SIPA Archives.”
“Those who knew about this and remained silent are accomplices at the very least. None of the “brave ones” commenting online or in the press filed such a notification. It took me three minutes. I’m not toying around with the law,” Danilet wrote.
Tutuianu: We asked SRI for report on way SIPA Archives was managed; we were told there was no involvement
Adrian Tutuianu, Chairman of the Romanian Intelligence Service (SRI) Oversight Committee, stated on Tuesday that he asked the SRI for a report on the manner the SIPA Archives was managed, the response received pointing out that the Service was not involved in managing the said archives.
“Today (Tuesday – editor’s note) we asked the SRI for a report concerning the way the archives belonging to the Independent Service for Protection and Anticorruption (SIPA) were managed. The statement I’m making based on the material received is that the SRI was not involved in managing this structure,” the Chairman of the SRI Oversight Committee emphasised.
Adrian Tutuianu wanted to make “a supplementary statement” on this topic.
“In 2005, Rasirom had a contract to install an access control subsystem as part of the system for the physical protection of classified information, at the locations of the General Directorate for Protection and Anticorruption, the integration of the system being finalised in December 2005. In February 2007, Rasirom signed a maintenance contract with the ANP, whose object was the maintenance of the system via biannual overhauls. Since no inspection was carried out in the first half of 2007, that September Rasirom was asked to carry out an intervention because of some malfunctions noted by the system’s beneficiaries, nevertheless without the date on which the malfunctions appeared being known,” the Social Democrat explained.
Adrian Tutuianu added that, in 2002, “the Justice Ministry asked the SRI for storage space for this archive; SRI informed that it lacks a proper storage space for this archive.”
Asked whether the report on the SIPA Archives should be declassified, the Chairman of the SRI Oversight Committee answered affirmatively, arguing that the information contained by the archives must be known.
“I believe so. The problem is at the Justice Ministry, not at the parliamentary oversight committee. We must know what is in that archive, and if persons took out documents, copied documents and used them for illegitimate purposes they must be held accountable,” Adrian Tutuianu concluded.
What does the SIPA Archives contain
According to a Wikileaks cablegram, judge Cristi Danilet stated that not all the dossiers of the SIPA Archives were destroyed, that he saw such dossiers and the documents contained intimate details about judges and prosecutors. According to ex-Justice Minister Catalin Predoiu, SIPA’s fate was allegedly also discussed during Romania’s EU accession negotiations, Digi24 claims.
“A perfect storm: corruption, rule of law and justice reforms take centre stage in Romania,” reads the title of a 2009 cablegram that the U.S. Embassy in Bucharest sent to Washington. According to the document drafted by American diplomats, judge Cristi Danilet explained to them that the SIPA Archives were not destroyed in their entirety, the Justice Ministry still having dossiers dating from 2001-2005. They were “accessible to the Justice Minister,” the cablegram shows.
“Press attention has also focused on Justice Minister Predoiu’s proposal to revive the Protection and Anticorruption Service (SIPA) abolished by then-Justice Minister Monica Macovei in 2005. SoJust founder Danilet (who served in the Macovei team) told Polcouns that SIPA was essentially the Justice Ministry’s in-house intelligence service, with the task of snooping on the private lives of judges, prosecutors, court officials, and even private citizens. He had seen their files, which contained details about illicit sexual affairs of judges and prosecutors, even medical records on which female judges had abortions. It was, Danielt noted, a throwback to the Ceausescu era, and a fallacy to believe that one could blackmail judges into reforming. (Note: Danilet disclosed that while files prior to 2001 had been destroyed, the MoJ still retained files from 2001-2005, in two small rooms accessible to the Justice Minister. End note.),” the US officials’ cablegram reads.
The document also points out that Bogdan Licu, CSM Vice President at the time, allegedly told Catalin Predoiu, Justice Minister at the time, that reviving the Service would be “a bad idea.”
“Similarly, CSM Deputy Chairman Liviu told political councillors that the Superior Council of Magistrates had told Justice Minister Predoiu categorically that reviving SIPA was a bad idea. Predoiu had subsequently requested a meeting with CSM leader for further discussions, but the CSM had refused to attend. ANI head Macovei said that the SIPA issue also came up briefly during Basescu’s Justice Summit: Geoana had demanded that Predoiu explain the logic for reviving the service; Basescu intervened by saying ‘this is outside our agenda today’ and Geoana backed off,” the Wikileaks cablegram reads.
“SIPA issue seems to have been discussed during pre-accession negotiations too”
What does PNL’s Catalin Predoiu, former Justice Minister, have to say about all this?
“SIPA actually means two issues: the Service and the archives. The Service was disbanded unexpectedly, without a risk-management plan for the archives, the personnel and the risks managed in the penitentiary environment. Think about it, agents scattered all over the place, who knows where, along with the information they had. In general, people focus on the political police aspects carried out by SIPA. From this standpoint, it seems the critical period was in fact 2000-2004, when the Justice Minister was also managing the magistrates’ career, including the judiciary inspection. But nobody talks about the risks created by the overnight disbanding of former SIPA employees. How many were they? Where did they go? What information were they managing? Moreover, also remaining is the issue of risks related to the penitentiary environment, to the safety of penitentiary personnel etc. Currently they are managed by a relevant directorate from within the National Penitentiary Administration. In the future, the archives should be sealed in the custody of the National Archives or melted down, with CSAT’s approval. In what concerns the protection of the penitentiary personnel, the National Penitentiary Administration’s relevant directorate must be strengthened in order to benefit from intelligence offered by existing services. In conclusion, the archives were not accessed during my term and I supported transferring them to the National Archives,” Catalin Predoiu claims.
Moreover, he points out, “the SIPA issue seems to have been discussed during the pre-accession negotiations too. It’s interesting to see in the pre-accession documents (correspondence, memorandums, public policy documents) whether approved was disbanding SIPA or rendering it professional by eliminating those who engaged in political police and introducing checks and balances in this regard.”