Justice Minister Tudorel Toader stated on Wednesday morning that he will declassify the archive of the former Independent Service for Protection and Anticorruption (SIPA) “in the shortest of times and in observance of the legal deadlines and procedures.” Supreme Court President Cristina Tarcea said she supports this overture, but the latter should be made in several stages, the first stage being the inventorying of documents.
“While observing the procedures in force, I’ll declassify the SIPA Archives,” the Justice Minister stated.
Subsequently, when asked by journalists whether he took this decision in view of the statements made by PSD President Liviu Dragnea, the Justice Minister answered: “These are your opinions.”
“I’ve decided to declassify the SIPA archive because it is a topic that has been repeated in the public space many times, usually on the arrival of a new minister. It seems it’s a topic that presents interest and so I’ll declassify this archive.”
PSD President Liviu Dragnea had stated on Monday evening, for Antena3, that if Justice Minister Tudorel Toader is “a fair man and a man of good faith” then he will declassify the ministry’s report on the disappearance of some dossiers from the SIPA archive, otherwise his confidence in him “will be close to nil.”
Cristina Tarcea: SIPA archive should be declassified in stages; first the documents must be inventoried
Supreme Court President Cristina Tarcea stated on Wednesday, before the plenary meeting of the Supreme Magistracy Council (CSM) that she endorses the declassification of the SIPA archive, however this should be done in several stages, the first of which would be to inventory the documents.
Asked, on Wednesday morning, for her comment on the Justice Minister’s statements on declassifying the SIPA archive, Tarcea said she supports the overture: “I don’t know the statement that the Justice Minister made this morning, however I heard him last evening saying that this declassification should be made in several stages and I agree. This overture must be made in stages, namely inventorying the documents is the first thing that must be done and then, based on their specificity, on the type of information, they will be declassified. I support this overture.”
The Supreme Magistracy Council has lodged with the Justice Ministry an address asking it for information about the SIPA archive. The proposal to ask the Justice Ministry for information was made by judge Gabriela Baltag during the CSM meeting on Tuesday, and the CSM plenum voted in favour.
“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,” Supreme Court President Cristina Tarcea stated on Tuesday.
She added she does not know what the SIPA archive contains, pointing out that during that period in which the existence of this service was known she was a judge and “there were serious fears on the part of magistrates, in the sense that the data contained by these archives could influence, one way or another, a judge’s career and professional life.”
The contents of CSM’s address toward Justice Ministry
In the document that the CSM sent to the Justice Ministry, considering the latter’s “capacity as custodian of the SIPA archive,” the request is made for the CSM to be informed about “the structure of the commission set up by Government decision no.127/2006, in line with the order issued by the Justice Minister; the concrete listing of prerogatives, responsibilities, effective manners/procedures in which this commission carried out its activity; and also the intermediary reports (in case such documents were drafted), the final report and/or any other document that can be assimilated to a discharge of prerogatives/tasks/duties/responsibilities, drafted at the moment the former DGAP’s archive was handed over to the National Penitentiary Administration.”
The CSM also wants to be told “the number of commissions subsequently set up at the level of the Justice Ministry – and their nominal membership – whose purpose was to inventory or verify the SIPA archive, as well as all the measures ordered as a result of these commissions’ activity, provided such measures were ordered.”
The CSM also wants to know the date on which the archive was sealed off and wants to be shown the official report drafted on that date, but also to be told “the way access to the archive was obtained, provided that happened.”
The Supreme Magistracy Council also wants to be informed about “the existence of measures taken at the level of the CSAT [Supreme Defence Council] (decisions/approvals) and communicated to the Justice Ministry, provided such measures were taken, or, on the contrary, the identification of one or more CSAT notifications lodged with the Justice Ministry on the topic of managing the SIPA archive over the years.”
‘Evenimentul Zilei’ 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.
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 in order for it to deal with protecting magistrates too.
Ghena: CSM voiced an opinion in 2016 on SIPA archive; procedure not completed
Superior Council of Magistrates (CSM) President Mariana Ghena on Wednesday said that in 2016 the council received a request to issue an opinion on declassifying the Internal Anti-Corruption Protection Service (SIPA) archives, however the demarche remained incomplete as the minister in office at that time didn’t continue the procedure.
“We identified in 2016 a demarche of the Justice Minister at that time [Raluca Pruna] asking the CSM for an opinion on the aspects of declassifying the elements of the SIPA archive. The legislation directorate within CSM voiced an opinion, however the demarche was delayed not because of the CSM, but (…) on the Justice Ministry level. The council’s step kept strictly within the Justice Minister’s request at that moment and remained incomplete as the minister at that time (…) didn’t continue the procedure,” Mariana Ghena said.
Danilet to JusMin: SIPA documents containing rumours, gossip, scenarios about magistrates should be melted
Judge Cristi Danilet states he disagrees with fully declassifying the SIPA archive, telling the Justice Minister in an open letter that the documents that contain rumours, gossip and scenarios about magistrates must be inventoried, separated and melted, in order not to become “instruments for threatening or mocking judges and prosecutors, irrespective of whether they are active or already retired.”
Danilet wrote a letter to Justice Minister Tudore Toader after the latter announced he will declassify the SIPA archive, inviting him to thoroughly reflect on this decision.
He points out that “SIPA is an ugly episode in the history of the Romanian judiciary,” stating that “for years on end, the magistrates were spied on, probably controlled or blackmailed too, by this militarised secret service that was subordinated to the Justice Ministry from 1991 to 2005, and which should have dealt only with illegalities occurring within the penitentiary system.”
“The information that are now in the SIPA archive stored within the National Penitentiary Administration – and sealed off by a commission whose member I too was – concern the professional and private lives of judiciary employees, including magistrates. Considering the contents of some of the documents I had access to (intelligence reports filed following talks with various persons, the consultation of judicial dossiers or surveillance operations conducted by SIPA agents), I believe these should not be made available to the public! There is no public interest in finding out rumours, gossip, scenarios about magistrates or any other information of this type,” the judge wrote.
In his opinion, the elements illegally gathered by this secret service “should not become instruments for threatening or mocking judges and prosecutors, irrespective of whether they are active or already retired.”
“In my opinion, those documents have no credibility, and after they are inventoried and separated from the rest of the documents pertaining to administrative issues concerning SIPA’s activity (including the name of SIPA employees and of their informers), they must be immediately melted,” Danilet wrote, adding that “only in this way an end can be put to the activity of controlling the careers of magistrates, activity carried out by political factors and secret services in 1997-2004.”
Senate Chairman Tariceanu: SIPA archives should be destroyed
Senate Chairman Calin Popescu-Tariceanu says the archives of the Internal Anti-Corruption Protection Service (SIPA) should be destroyed to eliminate what he calls “a blackmail instrument” against active judges and prosecutors.
“In my opinion, the SIPA archives should be destroyed, purely and simply, so that there will no longer be a blackmail instrument against those who are probably still working as judges or prosecutors. Some of them have likely retired since the archives started, we do not know, but the others, still actively employed, should be spared this looming threat because I do not find it normal for private life details to be used against them, so that their judgement may be distorted by the fear of such disclosures,” Tariceanu told B1TV private broadcaster on Wednesday.
He added that details from the private lives of law professionals included in the documents in the SIPA archives could be used for blackmailing.
“What do we learn from how the SIPA archives came into the public attention? That instead of the service taking care of protection of justice professionals against corruption attempts, unsound ties among judges, prosecutors, defendants and convicts, information about many things, including private life details, were gathered in dossiers on the justice professionals – judges and possibly prosecutors – details that can always be used for some nice blackmailing. That would not be anything original in Romania either. And I believe that for this reason, the archives should not be handed over, lest we finds some day that the archives got broken into, improperly used or I do not know what,” reads the transcript of Tariceanu’s statements on the show published on his Facebook page.
DIICOT opens criminal dossier following judge Cristi Danilet’s complaint about SIPA archive
Judge Cristi Danilet’s complaint against journalist Dan Andronic, whom he accuses of “the illegal possession or leaking of information from the SIPA archive,” was registered at the Directorate for the Investigation of Organised Crime and Terrorism (DIICOT) on Wednesday, the Directorate opening a criminal dossier that will be handled by a prosecutor.
Judge Cristi Danilet notified the Prosecutor General’s Office about the information included in an ‘Evenimentul Zilei’ article on the SIPA archive, his notification concerning “the illegal possession or leaking of information from the SIPA archive.”
On Tuesday, the Prosecutor General’s Office announced that the judge’s criminal complaint was redirected toward DIICOT, the latter being the competent authority in this case.
“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.
In the notification he lodged with the Prosecutor General, he refers to the actions revealed by the article published by ‘Evenimentul Zilei,’ actions regarding 3,000 dossiers from the SIPA archive.
In fact, Cristi Danilet points out in his notification that the article talks about “the stealing or copying of classified documents” he too had access to in 2007, in his capacity as Justice Minister adviser tasked with “investigating the SIPA archive so as to establish the destination of the documents stored at the National Penitentiary Administration.”
“I hereby point out I did not take out, copy, store or reveal information that were part of the SIPA archive documents I consulted, not in writing, not orally and not in any other form,” Danilet writes.
“Since the article attached talks about guilty acts that enter the sphere of the criminal offence stipulated by Article 39 of law no.182/2002, related to Article 303-304 of the Criminal Code, I hereby notify you in order for you to carry out the investigations required,” Danilet points out in his notification.
Grindeanu, about declassifying SIPA archive: There are things Romanians need to know
Prime Minister Sorin Grindeanu states in an interview with AGERPRES that he supports Justice Minister Tudorel Toader with regard to the declassification of the Internal Anti-Corruption Protection Service (SIPA) archives, underlining that there are things that “Romanians need to know” in connection with this subject.
The head of the Executive said that he summoned the Justice Minister on Tuesday to the Government headquarters, and one of the discussion topics was SIPA.
“I have seen that the Minister took a public position today, which I support and is in line with what we discussed yesterday. These things can be done in observance of the laws in force. It’s as simple as that. Why? Because it is important to remove any shadow cast on the justice act in Romania, and in this case we know what we are talking about, and (…) the only thing (…) to lead these courts is the law, not something else,” stated Grindeanu.
The Prime Minister also said he knows about the existing debate related to those who had access to the SIPA archives and the fact that certain duplicates had been made.
“These are things that Romanians have to find out, because it is normal, it is absolutely normal. The other part (the declassification – ed.n.) I also support it, provided that, as I said, the legal provisions in force are observed,” added Grindeanu.
At the same time, Grindeanu announced that he had also spoken with Toader about the Justice law package, stating that the draft law amending the Criminal Code and the Criminal Procedure Code might be approved in the Government sitting on Thursday.
Regarding the approval of the Justice laws by the Government, Grindeanu announced that this would “definitely happen in two weeks’ time.”
On the other hand, Grindeanu referred to law of the magistrates’ responsibility, stating that “it is necessary.”
“They are people who eventually need to have a framework that makes them accountable with regard to the act of justice they carry out. I believe we do not make these things up.” These are laws that work all over the world,” pointed out Grindeanu.