Justice Minister Tudorel Toader stated on Tuesday that the decision to close the dossier concerning Government Emergency Ordinance no.13 (OUG 13) was necessary and natural, because prosecutors cannot probe the legislative procedure but only acts pertaining to common law. He was also of the opinion that taking this decision took too long.
“The decision was necessary and natural. At the end of March, early April, I was saying that the prosecutor cannot continue the probe contrary to the Constitutional Court’s ruling. The solution to close [the case] is as natural as it can be, too bad it took so long. Through its ruling, the Constitutional Court stated that the prosecutor cannot probe the advisability, constitutionality, legislative procedure. Acts pertaining to common law remain incumbent on the prosecutor,” Tudorel Toader stated.
Concerning the abuse of office threshold, he said there will be two public debates, the first one set to take place on Wednesday, at the Justice Ministry headquarters.
Likewise, asked whether he will remain at the Justice Ministry, as member of the Tudose Government, Tudorel Toader said he will carry out his duties “until the last minute.” “If I’m asked this question, I’ll give an answer. I’ll carry out my duties until the last minute. I’ll attend CSM meetings, at 1 p.m. I have an audience, I have dossiers I have to approve in view of the first Government meeting. I’ll be at my office, doing my duty, up to the last moment. If asked, I’ll answer; if not, obviously I won’t answer unasked questions, hypothetical questions,” Toader said.
The Prosecutor’s Office attached to the High Court of Cassation and Justice announced on Monday it closed the dossier concerning the government emergency ordinance that would have modified the criminal codes (OUG 13).
“The prosecutors from the criminal probe and forensics section of the Prosecutor’s Office attached to the High Court of Cassation and Justice have ordered the closing of the case concerning the offences of deliberately presenting to Parliament or the President inaccurate data on the activity of the Government (stipulated by Article 8, Paragraph 1b of Law no.115/1999), stealing or destroying documents (stipulated by Article 259, Paragraphs 1 and 2 of the Criminal Code), stealing or destroying evidence or documents (stipulated by Article 275 of the Criminal Code) and forgery (stipulated by Article 321 of the Criminal Code),” the High Court’s Prosecutor’s Office informed. It also presented a chronology of the juridical dispute in regard to this dossier.
Prosecutor General on closing of OUG 13 dossier: Probe can’t go beyond constitutionality limits
Prosecutor General Augustin Lazar stated on Tuesday that prosecutors have decided to close the dossier concerning OUG 13 because the investigation cannot go beyond constitutionality limits and prosecutors are obliged to observe Constitutional Court rulings. Likewise, Justice Minister Tudorel Toader said that the decision to close the dossier was necessary and natural, because prosecutors cannot probe the legislative procedure but only acts pertaining to common law. He also opined that it took too long for this decision to be taken.
“The substantiation of this ordinance was made public, is known and it’s very clearly based on the reasons of the Constitutional Court ruling, which point out that the probe cannot cross some constitutionality limits. These were the reasons our colleagues ordered the closing of the case. Our colleagues, after they drafted the documents that still needed drafting in the dossier, always related to the content of the CCR [Constitutional Court of Romania] ruling. It was their decision to stop the probe and to close the dossier in these conditions, in order not to cross the constitutionality limits that are very clearly shown in the content of the ruling. Prosecutors are independent magistrates and do not plan on doing anything but observe the CCR rulings, which are mandatory for everyone,” Augustin Lazar stated.
Asked why the closing of the dossier was announced precisely on the day the new Premier was appointed, Lazar said prosecutors do not act based on what is happening in the public space.
“We can’t speculate. Our colleagues never look at what is happening in the public space in order to issue a solution. The solutions are issued when they deem they have all the necessary elements in order to do so,” the Prosecutor General pointed out.
Likewise, Augustin Lazar underscored that the Public Ministry upholds its point of view on the threshold for abuse of office.
“We believe no threshold is needed and it’s very clear that the proposal that the Justice Ministry made the first time… it’s a proposal we support,” Lazar said on Tuesday morning, before the Supreme Magistracy Council (CSM) meeting.
Ex-Justice Minister Florin Iordache: It’s a normal decision. Everything I did was legal and constitutional
Ex-Justice Minister Florin Iordache stated on Monday, in Parliament, that the Prosecutor General Office’s decision to close the dossier concerning OUG 13 is a “normal” one, considering he always said that everything that the Justice Ministry did was legal and constitutional.
“It’s a normal decision. The Prosecutor General’s Office, after the DNA declined this dossier, carried out its own investigations and today definitively closed the dossier that concerned OUG 13. I’ve always said that everything that was done at the Justice Ministry, and within the Government, in relation to OUG 13, was normal, legal and constitutional. And the Constitutional Court established that all the procedural steps we took were legal and constitutional,” Florin Iordache stated when asked for his opinion on the Prosecutor General Office’s decision to close the dossier concerning OUG 13.
The ex-minister claimed there was also a PR exercise and a lot of disinformation. “I believe it was a PR exercise, so that during that period some of the members of the Cabinet would be summoned to hearings at the DNA. Now it has been established that all that was done in regard to OUG 13 was a correct, normal, expected overture. At the same time, I believe there was also a lot of disinformation because, while at that moment the only point left in suspense was whether a threshold was needed or not, it was established, via the CCR’s subsequent decision, that there is a need for a threshold (concerning abuse of office – editor’s note),” the Social Democrat added.
Asked whether he is thinking of returning to a ministerial career, the Lower Chamber lawmaker answered negatively. “No, I’m thinking, just like I said when I tendered my resignation, that it was abnormal to put a blemish on the Government. It has been demonstrated that the Government’s activity at that moment was a legal activity,” Florin Iordache concluded.