“ Plumb and Shhaideh should have resigned or been removed”
President Klaus Iohannis said on Tuesday evening that ministers Rovana Plumb and Sevil Shhaideh, both subjected to anti-corruption investigations, should have resigned or been removed from office.
He has said that Justice Minister Tudorel Toader’s approach to verifying the legality of a Government Decision is inadequate, with the head of state arguing that if he found that some things are not well clarified in the judiciary, he had to come up with an act to correct them.
“Minister Toader has confused his position now with the position of university professor or rector he had before. If we speak theoretically, then there can be a discussion on the competence of administrative litigation, constitutional litigation or other related issues about who is in charge of what in Romania. It is true that this discussion can be held, and if we are to remain in the purely theoretical area, there are some aspects that are interesting and important for many, but Mr. Toader is not a university professor at the moment, but minister of justice. So, in his capacity as minister of justice, if he found that certain things were not well clarified in the Romanian judiciary, he did not have to make theoretical statements, but had to come up with an act that corrected, for example, the Civil Procedure Code. Therefore, the minister’s approach seems inappropriate to me,” Iohannis said at the Cotroceni Palace.
According to the president, the cases of prosecutors’ abuse should be resolved by the Higher Council of Magistrates, which deals with complaints of this kind, and by the policy in the field of justice.
“Impressive number of influential politicians attack Justice, full civic involvement needed”
President Klaus Iohannis stated on Tuesday that an “impressive” number of politicians have attacked the Justice since the parliamentary elections until now, adding that “full” civic involvement is needed in this case, and yet he is not calling for people to protest but to speak their mind.
“We cannot fail to notice that since the parliamentary elections until now, an impressive number of influential politicians have been busy attacking the Justice, the prosecutors, the procedures of the law, conveying to the population the impression that the Justice is not functioning. Certainly, one could easily notice that many of these influential politicians are either criminally indicted, or underway of being prosecuted, or being under criminal investigation. (…) Before the elections I have repeatedly drawn the voters’ attention that it would be very serious for people indicted or criminally prosecuted, that we generically call ‘criminals’ reach the helm of the state because that would automatically lead to an immense pressure on the Justice. It has happened. That is why full civic involvement is needed, there is the urgency that all who want the rule of the law in Romania and who want an independent Justice make it public and speak up. I by no means wish to create the impression that I want to call people out to protest or for any major divergences to occur, but a healthy society – and I want a healthy society for Romania – is compelled to publicly discuss these issues, because ultimately, they affect us all,” Iohannis stated at Cotroceni Presidential Palace.
He argued that in the case of certain Justice procedures the Venice Commission should be consulted but mentioned that this forum’s opinion is advisory.
“The Venice Commission was approached on certain issues and will continue to be, and yes, on certain procedures, it is quite indicated to call for the Venice Commission’s opinion, however this opinion is advisory and it’s up to us to solve the problems we have. A lot of caution is therefore needed, and also public debate,” Iohannis said.
Several civic and non-governmental organisations addressed on Monday a letter to President Klaus Iohannis requesting, among other things, the notification of the Venice Commission for an opinion regarding three decisions and resolutions of the Constitutional Court of Romania (CCR) and the immediate establishment of a committee to draw up an electoral code.
According to a press release of the Romania Initiative association, the signatories of the demarche also request from the head of state “action and the immediate expression of a trenchant position regarding the grave and imminent danger that the initiatives of the current governmental majority represents to the independence of Justice and the anti-corruption fight.”
“Removal of president from appointment procedure of chief prosecutors fundamental mistake”
President Klaus Iohannis on Tuesday night said that the proposal for the head of state to be removed from the appointment procedure of the chief prosecutors is a fundamental mistake, motivating that it is only thanks to the President’s presence in this procedure that Romania made it to have a consistent anti-corruption activity, with recognition at European and international level.
“I, personally, have spoken on this intention of so-called reform of the justice laws and clearly expressed my opinion that several points over there seem to me wrong and the approaches mistaken (…) There are too many points the ones directly targeted have to examine, these points are having to do with the Justice organisation, and yet two things do worry me a lot: the fact that they propose for the President to be removed from the chief prosecutors’ appointment procedure, I find this fundamentally wrong, because it is only through the presence of the President in this procedure that Romania has come to have a consistent anti-corruption activity, recognised not only at European level, but also worldly, and the President, and I am not talking only about the person of Klaus Iohannis, but of Romania’s President, is the warrantor that the anti-corruption fight is not politically subordinated,” the president said at the Cotroceni presidential Palace.
He also said that the subordination of the Judicial Inspection (IJ) to the Ministry of Justice is paving way to the risk of a political pressure.
“The second issue making way in the so-called Justice reform is also deeply worrying to me, namely the proposal that the Judicial Inspection is not subordinated to the Superior Council of Magistracy (CSM) anymore, which according to the Constitution, is guaranteeing the independence of Justice, and put it under the wand of the Ministry of Justice, which is a fully political body and the fact that the current Justice Minister is not a member of a political party makes no change here. In principle, the government is a political institution, formed of politicians and the subordination of the Judicial Inspection to a minister obviously brings about a political pressure’s risk upon the IJ,” Iohannis asserted.
The president specified he had discussions with all institutional partners on this matter, adding that he has no signals whatsoever that the Judicial Inspection doesn’t work.
“I have signals that various opinions exist and these opinions must be clarified, obviously, by those who are called to guarantee the independence of Justice, so by the CSM, and not by the politicians, who have nothing to do not even with having opinions there, in the Judicial Inspection,” Iohannis concluded.
“Pleased with DNA activity”
President Klaus Iohannis stated on Tuesday that he is pleased with the National Anti-corruption Directorate (DNA) activity, considering that the allegations at the Chief Prosecutor of DNA, Laura Codruta Kovesi “have gone too far”.
“Yes, I do trust the Superior Council of Magistracy (CSM), as these discussions show there are different opinions and they are being discussed, it would have been worse had there not been any debates at all. (…) Yes, I am pleased with the DNA’s activity and if there are any such complaints [regarding the existence of allegations that the DNA Chief Prosecutor is pressuring prosecutors – ed.n] then they will definitely be solved at CSM,” Iohannis said.
He did not want to comment on Laura Codruta Kovesi’s demarche to notify the Judicial Inspection in the case of the Justice Minister’s statements.
“I have worked in inspection, not judicial, but in school, and it made me think a little about what is going on in the system. That is, some prosecutors are eliminated from DNA because they did not do their job. I don’t want to go in any details, maybe they are really good, but it was decided that they carry on their activity with other prosecutors’ offices, or, it is these people who incriminate the leadership of the institution where they were sent home – it seems to be a game that is going too far,” Iohannis further said when asked if the accusations at the DNA Chief affect the image of the institution.
Asked whether Laura Codruta Kovesi should come to the hearings of the Inquiry Committee in the 2009 presidential elections, the head of state replied: “I do not believe criminal cases should be discussed in Parliament, the only thing that should be discussed in Parliament in relation to criminal cases are the approval of criminal prosecutions and those must be granted.”
Dragnea on DNA complaint against JusMin: How did Toader hamper the judicial process? Anyone can say anything, he can’t
Lower House Speaker Liviu Dragnea considers that the real problems of the judiciary consist of some prosecutors’ abuses, the situation at the Judicial Inspection or the discussions within the Supreme Magistracy Council (CSM), not of a statement made by Justice Minister Tudorel Toader.
He referred to the fact that National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA) Chief Prosecutor Laura Codruta Kovesi has asked the CSM to analyse whether the statements that Justice Minister Tudorel Toader made about the ‘Belina’ dossier affect the independence of the judiciary.
“The paradox is that anyone else from the judiciary and from among those who are working in some respectable press institutions takes the liberty to say anything, takes the liberty to ask for some to be convicted, for others to be released, for the punishment of some judges who dared make a different ruling, to scold prosecutors and magistrates, to say anything. On the other hand, the Justice Minister is not allowed to answer a question. How did he hamper the judicial process? Should we talk about this or about the abuses that have started to be brought to light? These are the big questions for the President of Romania too, in-between two super-important visits – [the questions] about what happens with prosecutors who commit abuses, who blackmail and pressure or obtain false denunciations, about the scandal at the Judicial Inspection, about the discussions that have taken place within the CSM, about the CSM’s attempt to behead the Judicial Inspection. I believe these are the big questions, not a comma in the President’s speech or some words we interpret I don’t know how,” Dragnea stated in Parliament.
Asked whether the Senate Speaker is right when talking about a “coup d’état,” Dragnea said: “The trail of thought leads that way, because this is the third raid at the Government – there was [one] in February, there was [one] two months ago, this one is up next. Still, many people are starting to ask – is someone who wins the elections allowed to form the Government or not? Or are the same forces that were deciding before, if some people whom they do not like come along, acting so as to make them disappear, so that there would be a Government that would in fact not represent the citizens’ and Parliament’s legitimate will, but would instead pursue some interests that are not transparent.”
“The idea that only one person in Romania decides who is good, who is bad – an egress from democracy”
Lower House Speaker Liviu Dragnea states that the idea that only one person in Romania is to decide who is good and who is bad represents a step toward an exit from democracy and emphasises that Parliament is the only institution that can legislate.
“The idea that some are good, others are bad, and that only one man in Romania decides who is good, who is bad, who is allowed to do something, who isn’t allowed, likewise to incite people to take to the streets so that this majority wouldn’t do something… I find it an egress from democracy, I mean a step,” the PSD leader stated at the Palace of Parliament.
Asked whether the statement the President made on Tuesday seemed like an invitation to protests to him, he said: “Not just to me, very many people have commented, there is the risk it would be understood like that.”
“Nevertheless, I believe it’s good for all of us not to forget that the Romanian Parliament, this institution, is the only one that can legislate and I warn everyone to refrain from pressuring Parliament, from threatening Parliament, from trying to block Parliament from thinking, drafting, debating, voting on and approving laws. This can’t be accepted,” the PSD leader added.
Dragnea , ironic after President spoke about the resignations of the two ministers investigated by DNA: Iohannis came upset from his holiday and he scolded us all
Earlier in the day, Speaker of the Deputies’ Chamber, PSD Chairman Liviu Dragnea, avoided on Wednesday to comment on the statements made by the head of state Klaus Iohannis, related to PSD’s position towards Justice, saying that Iohannis spoke “enough” and that he came “upset” from his holiday and “he scolded us all”.
“I will not speak. President (Klaus Iohannis – e.n.) spoke enough. However, he came upset from his holiday and he scolded us all” Dragnea said when exiting the plenum room of the Deputies’ Chamber, avoiding to make additional statements.
Dobrovolschi, on Dragnea’s statement about Iohannis: Is this a joke?
The Spokesman of the Presidential Administration, Madalina Dobrovolschi, stated on Wednesday, answering to a question related to a statement made by the PSD Chairman Liviu Dragnea, that representing Romania at the UN by President Klaus Iohannis is not “a holiday”.
“Is this a joke, or is it an irony based on an untruth? Because I would like to make a small comment, if representing Romania at the UN and meeting heads of state, including the President of the United States of America, is the same with going on holiday, then I really have no other comment on this matter” the Spokesman of the Presidential Administration, Madalina Dobrovolschi answered.
DNA’s request in the case of the Minister Rovana Plumb has reached the Deputies’ Chamber
DNA’s request in the case of the Minister Rovana Plumb has reached the Deputies’ Chamber on Wednesday. The Standing Bureau will meet in order to take note of the request of the judicial body and to send it to the Legal Committee.
According to the Regulation, after being received, the request is debated by the Standing Bureau, and it is subsequently sent to the Legal Committee in order to issue a report that will be subject of the plenary voting.
The Chief-Prosecutor of the National Anticorruption Directorate, Laura Codruta Kovesi, asked the Deputies’ Chamber to be notified related to the prosecution against Rovana Plumb, former Minister of the Environment and Climatic Changes at the time of the deed, for committing complicity to abuse of office in the case in which Vice PM Sevil Shhaideh is also investigated for illegally transferring a part of the Belina Island and the Pavel Branch in the administration of the Teleorman County Council.
Traian Basescu: The first thing the President should find is that there are major problems in Justice
Former President Traian Basescu stated on Tuesday that the current head of state, Klaus Iohannis, should find that “there are major problems in Justice”.
“I believe that the first thing (…) the President should find is that there are major problems in Justice. Where the major problem does starts from? On the one hand, it starts from the thirst for power. On the other hand, (…) most of the prosecutors from CSM are gathered behind Mrs. Kovesi and they are ready to decapitate the Inspection (Judicial Inspection – e.n.) which found deviations at DNA, which means that the relationship is somehow rotten, and on this matter the President has to go to CSM and (…) express his point of view” Basescu stated for TVR 1.
In his opinion, “many cases are made without evidence, and people are sentenced without evidence”.
“President Iohannis is wrong by continuing the unequivocal message that I had for 10 years. (…) A country cannot bear 20 years of a unique message. This was my message: ‘Justice is right, do not touch it!’ (…) After 10 years, in which this message has entered people’s conscience, (…) after 10 years in which there have been laws that made Justice an institution that cannot be touched by politicians, you can’t go on with the same message. (…) Romania had to fight against corruption, but (…) I believe that, after 10 years of strengthening Justice, there is the time to honestly look inside it (…) and find that there are a lot of problems” Basescu added.
Also asked how he comments President Iohannis’s statements related to the need for “Maximum civic involvement”, Basescu answered: “This is not the right way to lead, with people in the street. I think he’s wrong, we don’t need this anymore, we need to solve the problems”.
“Magistrates’ liability law needed, prosecutors, judges should pay”
The People’s Movement Party (PMP) leader, Senator Traian Basescu maintains that a law of magistrates’ liability is needed, so that if ECHR observes that a person has had an unfair trial in Romania, the prosecutors and the judges pay that person “considerable damage”.
“When the prosecutors knew that the judge will no longer tolerate the abuse and accusations without evidence, he wouldn’t do that anymore. (…) The judges’ fear, who maybe, in their lifetime, weren’t perfectly clean and think: well what might be in the SIPA case, what could SRI [Romanian Intelligence Service – ed.n] know about my cabin in the mountains, about my private life? (..) The SIPA story in itself which is not cleared up is worrisome. So, the first thing is to isolate the judge from the risk of being abused by the prosecutors. (…) So judges must be protected from ‘Portocala’ (name of a prosecutor, ed. n.), from the like, such as Negulescu, and there are lots of them, intoxicated with power, their power of putting in handcuffs for 24 hours makes them mad. The second thing that needs to be done is the magistrates’ liability law. Hello, there, when I am told at ECHR that I haven’t had a fair trial, and you prosecutor, and you judge pay my damages from your own pocket. (…) If I haven’t had a fair trial, you prosecutors, and judges, you pay me damages, but let them be substantial ones,” Traian Basescu expressed on Tuesday at national television broadcaster TVR1, his opinion about the solution to prevent “the occurrence of “the abuse” of some prosecutors and judges, signalled in the public sphere.
The former head of state added that another thing to do for the smooth running of the justice refers to the possibility that a prosecutor of the General Prosecutor’s Office be appointed directly on a position of judge with the High Court of Cassation and Justice (ICCJ).
“And the third thing that, in my opinion, must be done – it must be done with this gimmick that a prosecutor of the General Prosecutor’s Office can become overnight a judge with the High Court. No, you want to be a judge, go to the lower courts, there are different jobs to be done there. So, there are a few things that need to be done, “Basescu said.