National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA) Chief Prosecutor Laura Codruta Kovesi claims that the institution she leads is not caught up in a conflict with the Judicial Inspection (JI) and accuses JI Chief Inspector Lucian Netejoru of failing to list in his statement of interests his past membership in a masonic lodge. Kovesi expressed doubts about the authenticity of the leaked audio recording in which judicial auditor Mihaela Focica complained about pressure being exerted on her during the audit she conducted at the DNA.
“The guilty act has expired under the statute of limitations, but we informed the Supreme Magistracy Council about this. We sent this solution to the leadership of the Judicial Inspection too, because it’s a novel situation. The head of the Judicial Inspection did not list in his statement of interests the fact that he was a member of the masonry,” Laura Codruta Kovesi stated in an interview for Europa FM radio broadcaster.
According to the Chief Prosecutor, the DNA’s investigation concerning Lucian Netejoru took place because of a notification received from judge Camelia Bogdan in February this year. In the meantime, the case has been closed since the guilty act expired under the statute.
Nevertheless, Laura Codruta Kovesi claims the DNA is not caught up in a conflict with the Judicial Inspection.
Last week, the Supreme Magistracy Council’s (CSM) plenum decided that the Judicial Inspection should take note, ex officio, and conduct verifications into potential pressure Laura Codruta Kovesi allegedly put on judicial auditor Mihaela Focica. The judicial auditor was part of the team that recently audited DNA prosecutors.
In a leaked recording, Mihaela Focica can be heard complaining to the Deputy Inspector of the Judicial Inspection about pressure exerted on her and pointing out that she has certain fears regarding the background audit that Justice Minister Tudorel Toader ordered this summer.
The DNA Chief Prosecutor refused making comments on this recording, questioning its authenticity.
“I don’t know how authentic that discussion is. However, I’m convinced the head of the Judicial Inspection, the moment an inspector goes before him and tells him someone exerted pressure, was obligated to order an audit into that situation. If someone complained that pressure was being exerted, why were no measures taken for three months?” Kovesi added.
The report drafted following the Judicial Inspection’s audit of the DNA’s entire activity will be discussed on October 6 within the CSM Section for Prosecutors. For the time being, the DNA has challenged some of the procedures the auditors used during this audit.
According to the DNA Chief Prosecutor, the Judicial Inspection allegedly carried out approximately 130 verifications at the Anticorruption Directorate. Among them, one audit this year targeted the entire activity of the Directorate’s prosecutors and management.
“Volume of activity growing each year at the DNA. We lodged personnel assignment requests with MAI and MJ, but they were left unanswered”
Kovesi states that prosecutors have a very high number of pending dossiers and ministries such as the Interior Ministry (MAI) and Justice Ministry (MJ) could support the Directorate’s activity but failed to respond to the requests made. She pointed out that each prosecutor handles 80 criminal dossiers, on average.
“The volume of activity within the DNA is rising each year. We have over 10,000 dossiers to handle, with approximately 120 prosecutors. Each prosecutor has around 70-80 dossiers pending. You can’t work on 80 dossiers at once. You physically can’t do it. Each prosecutor has one or two police officers helping him in his activity. Now, we’re facing another situation: the assignment deadlines are expiring for some of the police officers who have been working within the DNA for six years,” Kovesi stated for Europa FM.
She said she asked the Interior Minister to assign five police officers to the DNA, but the request went unanswered.
“I’ve asked the Interior Ministry to assign us five police officers. Usually, these requests were signed after one week, after two weeks. We have requests from June, we have requests from August, that have received no answer from the Interior Ministry. I’ve had an institutional discussion with the minister, who explained to me that they have a special situation, that there were very many retirements and the ministry’s resources have changed and that she must prioritise the activity based on the ministry’s resources. Of course, my reply was that, of course, it’s her decision, but I don’t believe five people who should have worked within the DNA influence, in a categorical manner, the activity of the Interior Ministry, which has tens of thousands of employees, right?” Kovesi stated.
According to the DNA Chief Prosecutors, the Justice Ministry is not supporting the Directorate in hiking its personnel either. “We have more than five requests lodged with the Justice Ministry, ever since last year, after the Constitutional Court ruling was issued, in which we said that our human resources must be supplemented, that we need people. We received 40 positions last year; from last year to August this year, we’ve lodged with the Justice Ministry four or five requests for support. We haven’t received any answers to our requests. (…) We have five police officers that should come to the DNA but they can’t because their assignment is not being signed,” Kovesi pointed out.
Minister Dan replies to Kovesi: It’s not ok for DNA to recruit within MAI. Certain police officers were indicated by name
Interior Minister Carmen Dan stated on Monday that Laura Codruta Kovesi asked “certain police officers indicated by name” to be assigned to the DNA, pointing out that she does not believe it is all right for the DNA Chief Prosecutor to “recruit within the institution.”
“This morning, I had a discussion with the prosecutor, telling her the reasons and considerations for which the Interior Minister no longer undersigned the assignment of police officers endowed with judicial police prerogatives to any Prosecutor’s Office structure. However, it’s not an approach that concerns solely the institution she represents. We have 245 police officers assigned to the DNA. I remind you there is a Government decision based on which the assignment of 40 police officers falls under the responsibility of the Interior Minister. It very clearly results that we are above the commitment taken,” Minister Carmen Dan told Antena3 private broadcaster.
Moreover, Minister Carmen Dan complained that Laura Codruta Kovesi asked for “certain police officers indicated by name” to be assigned to the DNA.
“The extension of some assignments was not requested, assignment requests for certain police officers indicated by name [were made]. I don’t believe it’s all right for the DNA to lodge nominal requests with the MAI [Interior Ministry], to recruit, as I understand, within the institution. This as a principle. (…) In 2017, the DNA asked that the assignment of eight police officers be terminated. I don’t believe one can say the DNA’s activity is being blocked because the Interior Minister does not approve the assignment of another five police officers indicated by name,” Carmen Dan added.
The Interior Minister’s reaction comes after DNA Chief Prosecutor Laura Codruta Kovesi stated that the institution she leads is facing a human resources problem, especially in what concerns police officers, claiming she discussed with Minister Carmen Dan about it but the assignments were not extended.