Report: PM convened a Gov’t meeting “at night, like thieves”
The preliminary report of the committee of inquiry into the presidential elections of 2009 claims that then-President Traian Basescu and the PD Government headed by Emil Boc (photo) aided and abetted the rigging of the elections, the vote difference between the candidates being so small that their actions influenced the result of the elections. The report also claims that the Romanian Intelligence Service (SRI) and the National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA) aided and abetted the covering up of these actions. The fact that it convened a meeting to replace the heads of institutions – “at night, like thieves” – is among the accusations levelled against the Boc Government.
Under the chapter titled “the Presidency’s and Government’s involvement in aiding and abetting the rigging of the elections,” the report shows that the role played by the Interior Minister in preparing and organising the elections as well as in ensuring the observance of the law during the elections is decisive, particularly from the standpoint of the Prefects’ and central public administration’s involvement in organising the elections. The committee members thus point to the decision to replace Interior Minister Dan Nica (PSD) ahead of the presidential elections of 2009, as a result of the break-up of the PSD-PD alliance. They claim the decision was taken with the intent to rig the elections.
“The presidential institution represented by Traian Basescu (former PD President) revoked – at the proposal of Premier Emil Boc (who was also PD President) – Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Dan Nica, and the Government led by Emil Boc replaced, on the same day, 20 prefects with persons proposed by Vasile Blaga, one of PD’s important leaders,” the report reads.
The report presents the chronology of events that resulted in Dan Nica’s dismissal, after the latter accused PD of preparing motor coaches to be used in the committal of personation. The report points out that Traian Basescu immediately signed the decree that saw Nica replaced by Vasile Blaga. The report also mentions the subsequent replacing of all PSD ministers with PD ministers.
“On the same date, 01.10.2009, Premier Emil Boc convened the Government meeting that started at 7 p.m. (immediately after sundown, “at night, like thieves”!),” the committee accuses.
The report shows that state institutions aided and abetted the rigging of the elections.
“The Committee noted concrete actions on the part of the presidential institution represented by Traian Basescu and of the Government led by Emil Boc, meant to aid and abet the rigging of the elections to the advantage of candidate Traian Basescu. These actions on the part of the two institutions were perfectly synchronised, thus proving that they were part of a large and perfectly tuned plan, their actions being premeditated. In implementing the plan to rig the presidential elections, the representatives of the two institutions acted forcefully, with ill will, in complete contempt for the law,” reads the report.
The committee members’ conclusion is that “the amplitude of the actions was liable to change the result of the elections.”
PD leaders are thus accused of setting up an organised crime group – Traian Basescu being involved too –, forgery, use of forgery and abuse of office.
“Bearing in mind these reasons, the committee will send the partial report to the competent institutions, so that they would act in line with their legal prerogatives, thus: only the Prosecutor General’s Office attached to the High Court of Cassation and Justice can decide whether to start a criminal probe against Traian Basescu. Since the aforementioned guilty acts are committed by former members of Government while exercising their duties, the provisions of the first thesis of paragraph 2, Article 109 of the Constitution and of Constitutional Court Ruling no.270/2008 are applicable, so that the decision on whether to ask for a criminal probe against the former members of Government that are not currently members of Parliament – Emil Boc, Vasile Blaga, Gabriel Sandu, Gheorghe Pogea, Elena Gabriela Udrea, Radu Mircea Berceanu, Adriean Videanu and Sorina Luminita Placinta – is up to the Romanian President,” reads the report.
“It is up to the Lower House whether to ask for a criminal probe against Mr Catalin Marian Predoiu, former member of Government that is currently member of the Lower House,” the report’s conclusions point out.
The committee also accuses the SRI and the DNA of “aiding and abetting the rigging of the elections.”
“Finding out the truth in what concerns the public accusation that the SRI and the DNA were involved in aiding and abetting the rigging of the elections – as a result of the leaders of these institutions being present at Mr Gabriel Oprea’s house on the evening of the elections – could not be done because the activity of the parliamentary committee of inquiry was blocked by: the refusal of the persons heard to respond to all of the committee’s questions, arguing that “there is an ongoing investigation”; the refusal on the part of persons who pointed out, in writing, that they cannot assist the committee, arguing that there is an ongoing investigation,” reads the report.
It also points to Laura Codruta Kovesi’s and Augustin Lazar’s refusal to answer questions regarding the night of the presidential elections.
“The committee of inquiry was unable to clarify all aspects, its activity being blocked by the aforementioned persons. The committee of inquiry will adopt the partial report and will present it before the Joint Standing Bureaus, in order for it to be put up for debate within the joint plenum of the two Houses of Parliament, so that the joint plenum would adopt a decision that will reflect the content of the initial report. The committee of inquiry will place the partial report, as well as the documents on which it is based, at the disposal of the Presidency, the Romanian Government, the Prosecutor’s Office attached to the High Court of Cassation and Justice, and the Supreme Magistracy Council, so that all these institutions would be able to adopt the necessary measures, in line with their prerogatives,” reads the report.
According to the committee’s report, the hearings and investigations identified a series of “shortcomings” in the electoral process, such as: the listing, on a single electoral table, of voters that exercised their voting rights both in the presidential elections and in the national referendum; on the part of the polling and counting agents allotted to the polling stations – failure to observe the procedure of handing out ballots for the presidential elections and ballots for the national referendum; the disappearance of some ballots; placing some voting booths outside the polling stations; tolerating the sale of alcoholic beverages within the protected area of the polling stations; failure to solve requests for the use of the mobile ballot box; on the part of mayors, deputy mayors, polling agents, observers and accredited opinion poll operators – attempts to influence the voting process; several persons entering the same polling booth; the use of incomplete dossiers with materials used in polling stations; “altercations” and “hurling of insults” between polling and counting agents.
The members of the committee state that they also identified suspicions of multiple voting, personation, attempts to snap photos of the ballot papers inside the voting booths and instances in which persons who remained inside polling stations did not have the right to do so.
The report accuses that there are notifications concerning the political bias of some of the NGO observers and some of the media’s internal representatives, the large number of people for which accreditations were requested by NGOs and media organisations. The report also accuses that, on election day, the representatives of political parties “issued erroneous information from polling stations, without that information being confirmed by the president of the County Electoral Bureau or by the spokesperson of the County Electoral Bureau.”
“According to Interior Ministry data, during the two rounds of presidential elections there were 4,516 incidents (during the first round there were 2,658 incidents, of which 52.1 percent in rural areas and 47.9 percent in urban areas). During the elections campaign and on the day prior to the presidential runoff, there were 905 incidents, of which 50 percent in rural areas and 50 percent in urban areas. Coming on top of these, there were 953 incidents on 6 December 2009,” reads the report.
Elections committee asks for law on inquiry committees and “powers of coercion”: Refusal to attend hearings should result in loss of office
The committee of inquiry into the presidential elections of 2009 convened on Wednesday to discuss its final report which includes the conclusions of the hearings and debates that took place in recent months as well as proposed amendments to the legislation that concerns committees of inquiry, its members being of the opinion that parliamentarians lack sufficient legal levers in this case.
The preliminary report of the committee of inquiry into the presidential elections of 2009 contains a series of proposals on the drafting of a law that would regulate the way such committees will operate in the future. It also asks for the introduction of sanctions against public persons who refuse to take part in the proceedings, and also for “real powers of coercion” so as to bring them before the committees.
According to the committee’s report, the Constitutional Court of Romania (CCR) has issued three rulings on the issue, “recognising the plenitude of Parliament’s function as overseer,” in the sense that the institution “should have the possibility to take any kind of measures in order to give consistency to this plenitude, ruling on the activity of a parliamentary committee of inquiry.”
This special law on inquiry committees should contain the norms included in the three CCR rulings issued while the committee of inquiry into the presidential elections was working.
Committee members have also asked for a solution to the problem concerning refusals coming from persons summoned for hearings or asked to provide written answers.
“Summoned persons must come before the committees of inquiry, based on the fact that the activity of the institutions/authorities they are part of is under parliamentary oversight. The persons invited and those that represent – by virtue of their leadership positions – authorities/public institutions that are not under parliamentary oversight have the obligation, based on the principle of loyal collaboration between state institutions/authorities, to take part in the proceedings of the committee in all cases and regardless of the object of the parliamentary inquiry,” reads the report.
In what concerns persons who “may have no connection with state institutions,” the decision to come before the committee or not is up to them.
“Considering these reasons, it is necessary to set the legislation in line with the rulings of the Constitutional Court. We emphasise that the lack of a special law on the functioning of committees of inquiry hampers their activity, the committees of inquiry requiring levers that would allow them access to information on whose basis their members could reach conclusions in line with the committees’ objective. Parliamentary committees of inquiry must be provided, by law, with real powers of coercion: by implementing sanctions, to receive the documents demanded, to encourage a witness to show up for hearings, to provide evidence and to take an oath. First of all, these committees must be empowered to demand any document they want (necessary for attaining their objectives),” the report shows.
The committee members state that “the reports of the parliamentary committees cannot be left without consequences.”
“We propose that all those who refuse to collaborate with a parliamentary committee of inquiry or to show up before a parliamentary committee of inquiry should lose their offices and be banned from holding public office for 3 years. The inquiry committees’ proposed reforms should form the basis of improving legislation in the domains concerned,” reads the report.
Dragnea after committee of inquiry presents its report: Coalition will discuss notifying the CCR about Public Ministry
PSD President Liviu Dragnea stated on Wednesday that he and ALDE President Calin Popescu Tariceanu will discuss the possibility of notifying the Constitutional Court of Romania (CCR) about a juridical conflict between Parliament and the Public Ministry, because prosecutors have blocked the committee of inquiry into the presidential elections of 2009 from accessing data that could have helped it solve its inquiry.
“It’s important the notion that we’re discussing a partial report, that the committee’s action has basically been blocked; if we were to talk procedurally, [the action] is suspended because those who should have come before it did not do so, because they did not receive from the Prosecutor General what they had asked for. They couldn’t go through with it. We’ll adopt a decision in Parliament (…), I’ll talk with Mr Tariceanu today, to hold counsel, because we must go forward with the Committee’s request to notify the CCR about a conflict of a constitutional nature,” Dragnea said when asked about the committee report.
PNL on inquiry committee’s report: We can’t validate the point of view that PSD wants to shove down our throat
On Wednesday, the Liberals walked out of the committee of inquiry into the presidential elections of 2009, refusing to vote on its report, after their request to have the vote postponed for Thursday – so that they would have time to read it and come up with their own conclusions – was rejected.
“The three PNL members of the committee of inquiry have decided to walk out and not to take part in the final vote on the Report. The reasons have to do with the fact that the PSD-ALDE majority came up with a Report it does not want to discuss, which it wants to put up for vote while disregarding our request to discuss each element of the conclusions point-by-point and to postpone the adoption of the report for tomorrow (Thursday – editor’s note), so that we too could give a written answer to those things we do not agree with. We talked for an hour about our request to discuss this point-by-point and to postpone the vote for tomorrow. Our proposal was rejected. (…) We cannot validate a PSD point of view, a point of view with which PSD started this inquiry and that they now want to shove down our throat. That can’t be,” PNL Senator and committee member Daniel Fenechiu stated.