The Lower House plenum rejected on Tuesday the National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA) request to greenlight the start of a criminal probe against outgoing European Grants Minister Rovana Plumb for complicity to abuse of office in the case in which Sevil Shhaideh is also being probed, a case concerning the illegal transfer of a part of the Belina Island and Pavel Distributary to the Teleorman County Council’s management.
The vote was secret. 284 MPs were present and there were 283 valid votes – 184 “against” and 99 “for.”
Rovana Plumb thanks Lower House colleagues for defending rule of law principles
Outgoing European Grants Minister Rovana Plumb thanked her Lower House colleagues who rejected the request to lift her immunity, stating that they defended the rule of law principles.
Rovana Plumb told journalists, after the result of the vote was announced, that Lower House MPs understood the fact that “the advisability of a Government Decision that has all legality green lights cannot be the object of a criminal investigation.”
During the plenary meeting of the Lower House, Rovana Plumb claimed that she is innocent in the dossier in which the DNA accuses her of complicity to abuse of office, stating that the anticorruption prosecutors’ overture is an abuse and “unlawful repression” against ministers and seeks to remove PSD from Government.
On Monday, the members of the Lower House Judiciary Committee drafted and adopted a report rejecting the DNA request. The Judiciary Committee issued a negative report on the DNA’s request to have Rovana Plumb’s immunity lifted in order to start a criminal probe against her in the Belina case. The decision to reject the DNA’s request was taken in a 14-9 vote, PNL MP Ioan Cupsa announced.
On Monday, after the hearings within the Lower House Judiciary Committee, Rovana Plumb stated that she “expressly” emphasised that she is innocent in what concerns the DNA’s abuse of office accusations, and reiterated she never broke the law.
“Within the Committee, I presented my point of view alongside my defendant, lawyer Viorel Mocanu. I expressly emphasised that I’m innocent in what concerns the accusation of abuse of office levelled by the DNA, stating very clearly and very firmly that I never broke the law. During my entire activity as minister, I acted with utmost responsibility and in good faith. I never had any illicit agreements with anyone and I never aided or backed any person in illegal premises,” Rovana Plumb stated after she was heard within the Lower House Judiciary Committee.
She added that during her activity as minister she observed the country’s laws “in the spirit and the letter of the law.”
“I emphasised that there was never any subpoena, any invitation on the part of the DNA in what concerns me, that I found out from the press (…) during the negotiations I had with the European Commission,” Rovana Plumb pointed out.
She claimed that the dossier contains no kind of argument that would substantiate the accusations, pointing out that the two Government Decisions issued in this case “are legal because they have all the green lights from all ministries of the line and from all that the administrative apparatus means.”
Asked whether she had asked the committee members to reject the DNA’s request, Rovana Plumb said: “My colleagues from the Judiciary Committee know very well what they have to do and I’m convinced that they will draft the report in the spirit and the letter of the law.”
Doina Pana: I don’t understand why Shhaideh and Plumb had to leave the Government
Minister of Waters and Forests Doina Pana stated on Tuesday at the Parliament that she doesn’t understand why ministers Sevil Shhaideh and Rovana Plumb had to leave the Government and what was the reason for which PM Mihai Tudose asked them to do this, given that the benefit of doubt exists.
Doina Panasaid that she doesn’t understand why PM Mihai Tudose stated that Shhaideh and Plumb have to leave the Government because of the criminal problems and the perception existing at Brussels.
“No, I don’t understand, as long as the Constitution has a certain provision, and recently a European directive says the same thing” Pană stated.
He claimed that at the meeting of the PSD National Executive Committee in which Shhaideh and Plumb announced their resignations, PM said that otherwise he intends to resign.
“Sevil is permanently harassed since January. The life of a minister is not easy, there are huge responsibilities. It involves not only a lot of physical work, but also a permanent stress. If besides this, there are also months of stress related to things you are not guilty about, but so many public statements are made, you feel hunted, no matter how superman you are, and I believe that Mrs. Sevil is some kind of a superman, given all her activity since I know her. Yet, you give up finally” Doina Pana also said.
Turcan: No one is above the law, the Parliament shouldn’t replace Justice
The leader of the National Liberal Party (PNL) deputies Raluca Turcan stated on Tuesday at the Parliament that the guilt or the innocence of a person shouldn’t be decided by the Parliament, but by the court, and she reminded that Liviu Dragnea said in 2015, one day after he was elected as the PSD Chairman, that he will resign if prosecutors will request the removal of his immunity, and he will not make an exception for anyone in the party.
“We have no doubt – we will vote for the removal of the parliamentary immunity. There is a huge desire for a new spirit to appear, for us to have another attitude towards the judicial act and the rule of law. These statements don’t belong to me, or to my colleagues from PNL, they belong to Mr. Liviu Dragnea: ‘If there will be any request for the removal of my immunity, I will ask for it to be removed, otherwise I will resign from the Parliament. I don’t think we can vote in a different way, I was clear enough, we must have an unequivocal behavior, I tell you very clear, we are not going to make any exception, for anyone’. I quit the quote from Liviu Dragnea… Probably if we said these things, we would have heard booing, clumping in the room, but the one who said this is the PSD Chairman, the man who is currently controlling the Parliament and trying to subordinate other state institutions, one by one” Raluca Turcan stated.
He said that the Parliament shouldn’t replace Justice, and ministers or the representatives of the people should benefit from the same treatment before the law as any other citizen.
“The Parliament does not replace a court, it only has to say if a former minister or a parliamentarian benefits from the same treatment as any other citizen of this country. I believe that Mrs. Plumb is not guilty, same as I believe that Mrs. Shhaideh is not guilty, but it doesn’t matter what I think, it matters what the court decides, as it does for many people who are dying while they are right in Romania, without being able to receive the court’s decision. Our concern has to be that the state institutions are functioning correctly, and their slippages are sanctioned in Justice. (…) No one is above the law, neither Mrs. Plumb, or Mr. Ilie, or Mr. Tăriceanu, or even Mr. Dragnea” underlined the leader of the PNL deputies.
Ghinea (USR): The one who decides who is legally guilty in this country is not the Parliament
The Save Romania Union (USR) MP Cristian Ghinea stated on Tuesday at the debates on the removal of Rovana Plumb’s immunity, that the one who decides who is guilty and who is not guilty in Romania is not the Parliament, and he accused the PSD MPs that “they are playing The Court”.
“Mrs. Plumb, you said you are not guilty; it’s possible, but the decision is not taken here. The one who decides who is legally guilty in this country is not the Parliament. This is today’s big problem. Mrs. Plumb, you are doing a big disservice to yourself, because you will keep this ghost in your career, you will not be able to convince the public opinion that you weren’t protected by the party today, right here” Cristian Ghinea said from the tribune of the Deputies’ Chamber.
The USR MP accused the PSD parliamentarians, and especially the Chairman of the Legal Committee Eugen Nicolicea, that “they are playing The Court”.
“Mr. Nicolicea, you spoke to us a lot yesterday, in the Legal Committee, it was a very long meeting, you also taught us geography, the branch is not a branch, the island is not an island, the lake is not a lake. We have discussed on the merits of this case about details that I never thought that we will discuss in the Romanian Parliament, because the Romanian Parliament is not a court. Mr. Nicolicea wants us to play The Court, this is what he did in the Legal Committee, and this is what he wants us to do today, right here, in the plenary session” Ghinea added.
US Embassy: Parliamentary immunity not to be taken advantage of to shield someone from responsibility
Nobody should be above the law, and parliamentary immunity should not be used to protect someone from responsibility, the United States Embassy in Bucharest specifies in a response to an inquiry made by AGERPRES.
The Embassy does not comment on individual cases. Despite that, we believe that no one should be above the law and parliamentary immunity should not be taken advantage of in order to shield someone from responsibility, the reply of the U.S. diplomatic mission reads.