Prime Minister Viorica Dancila on Wednesday sent a letter to President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker, asking him to clarify “the de facto and de jure aspects” related to a letter of the EC from October 2012, sent to the Romanian Justice Ministry in which “concrete, direct” demands can be found regarding certain criminal cases and certain people under criminal investigation for corruption and abuse of office offenses, a press release of the Gov’t informs.
Viorica Dancila specifies that as Prime Minister of Romania’s Government, she has the responsibility to appeal “to all legal and moral levers for protecting and promoting Romania as a democratic state in which the separation of powers, the independence of justice are functioning and the citizens’ fundamental rights and liberties are being guaranteed,” the release says.
“The rule of law and the defense of the rule of law are the fundamental pillars of the strengthening of any democratic society, such as my country’s. This is my conviction, that of Romania’s Government and of all those who share democratic values. For these reasons and given our common convictions, I address you, Mr. President, in relation to a topic which worries and concerns the public opinion in Romania. I am referring to a letter attributed to the European Commission, of 10 October 2012, sent to the then-Justice Minister, Mrs. Mona Pivniceru, which contains 21 requests addressed by the European institutions to the Romanian Government regarding the Co-operation and Verification Mechanism. Among these requirements, certain concrete, direct requests can be found concerning certain criminal cases of certain people under criminal investigation for corruption and abuse of office offenses, namely George Becali, Adrian Nastase, Serban Alexandru Bradisteanu, George Copos, Tudor Chiuariu, Ion Dumitru, Decebal Traian Remes, Catalin Voicu, Dan Voiculescu,” the premier affirms in the letter addressed to the EC head.
The Prime Minister expresses her belief that, soon, with Mr. Juncker’s direct involvement, the aspects related to the requests addressed to the EC by the Romanian Justice Ministry will be cleared up.
Viorica Dancila also declared herself strongly convinced that the reply of the EC head to her request “will include relevant and useful details” that will further allow “for significant results within the CVM to be obtained, based on the values of respect for democracy, for the rule of law, for the citizens’ fundamental rights and liberties, in a society characterised by no discrimination, by justice, lawfulness, truth, and equality of rights.”
Earlier on Wednesday, Dancila announced in the opening of the Gov’t sitting that she will send a letter to the European Commission’s President Jean-Claude Juncker, by which she will ask information regarding the requests by the European Commission (EC) sent to the Justice Ministry on the high level corruption files.
The Prime Minister specified that on Wednesday morning she has received from the Justice Ministry an answer that confirms such practices on behalf of the European Commission.
She added that clarifying such things is of the utmost importance to Romania.
CSM asks MJ to say how it answered a European Commission request dated 2012 on high-level corruption files
The Superior Council of Magistrates (CSM) has asked the Ministry of Justice (MJ) to communicate how it answered the request made by the European Commission in 2012 regarding a certain topic having to do with high-level corruption files.
On its plenary sitting on Tuesday, the CSM took several decisions regarding “issues of major public interest concerning the independence of the judiciary.”
“Sending a notification to the Ministry of Justice to inform the Superior Council of Magistrates how it answered the European Commission on 10.10.2012, item 20 of the appendix, and also the method used in collecting the data, considering the potential this matter has of affecting the independence of the courts responsible for solving such cases,” is one of the decisions taken by the CSM.
Prime Minister Viorica Dancila on Monday asked Justice Minister Tudorel Toader, in a letter, to quickly communicate whether the MJ received from the European Commission such requests for information with respect to the description of the status of the judiciary and the establishment of the next procedural steps in alleged high-level corruption cases, while referring to files still pending in court.
One of the demands of the EC document dated 10 October 2012, addressed to the Government of Romania and presenting a list of 21 issues related to the CVM, concerns a status report and the establishing of the next steps in well-known corruption cases, a list of names being also included: Gheorghe Copos, Adrian Nastase, Serban Bradisteanu, Ion Dumitru, Decebal Traian Remes, Dan Voiculescu, George Becali, Catalin Voicu, Tudor Chiuariu.
On Tuesday, in response to a MEDIAFAX inquiry, the European Commission pointed out that the document from 2012, which contains a list of names of persons that have criminal problems, was part of the usual technical exchanges within the CVM.
“This was part of the usual technical exchanges carried out as part of the CVM a few years ago (2012), referring to benchmark no.3, which stipulates “Building on progress already made, continue to conduct professional, non-partisan investigations into allegations of high-level corruption.” As you know, the CVM is a process based on an accord, meant to assess Romania’s progress in virtue of some established benchmarks,” Christian Wigan, European Commission Spokesperson for rule of law, EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, and justice, told MEDIAFAX.
In 2012, the European Commission asked the Justice Ministry for files on corruption dossiers
In March 2012, the European Commission sent a letter to then-Justice Minister Catalin Predoiu, asking for files on corruption cases, files that should have contained information on the capacity of the defendants, the stages of the trials and the reasons for the delays, according to Antena3 private broadcaster.
“Offer us detailed files for each of the cases we refer to under point 48 of questionnaire 1, which were sent to court in 2008 or before and which are yet to receive a final ruling. Regarding each case, list the stages of the developments during each court hearing and the reason offered for any delay. (…) Put at our disposal a list of corruption cases that would involve persons holding high-level offices or who held offices in the Government, Parliament, city halls or county councils, who were indicted starting in 2007. In each case, present in detail the capacity of the defendant, the nature of the charge, the date on which the investigation started,” reads a document that Antena3 TV presented, a document signed by former European Commission Secretary General Catherine Day.
The then Justice Minister Catalin Predoiu has emphasised that the document he received did not stipulate any names.
“That letter was arriving at the Justice Ministry before the annual reports, usually in spring and autumn, because the reports came in the summer and in February. Why was it arriving at the Justice Ministry? It was arriving at the Ministry because the Ministry was, according to the CVM, the institution that was centralising all information from all other institutions having prerogatives as part of the CVM. (…) I don’t recall cases being mentioned by name there, but all the high-level corruption cases from the dockets of the High Court, whose trial had had a duration of four years. So, they were asking for information that was public, was on the website, was centralised by the High Court, was at the ministry and the ministry, in its turn… It was information known by the parties, the lawyers, partially by the public too, regarding deadlines. The European Commission sought to see whether these dossiers were lingering on the Court’s dockets and to understand why: is it a problem with the law, then they were recommending that the laws be changed. Is it a problem with the lack of personnel, then they were recommending that the number of High Court judges be hiked. Or was it simply a subjective problem?” ex-Justice Minister Catalin Predoiu stated on Antena3.
He added: “All these documents were collected from the ICCJ, the CSM, the Public Ministry, were packaged and sent by mail to Brussels. And there they were discussed by experts.”
The letter addressed to Predoiu is dated before the list of European Commission demands relating to the CVM, which also includes a list of names of Romanian politicians and heads of institutions.
Basescu: I didn’t see that list. I was at the garage back then
Ex-President Traian Basescu stated on Tuesday that he did not know of any document that the European Commission sent during his term in office and that contained the names of persons with criminal problems, pointing out that during that period he was suspended from office by the Social Liberal Union (USL) coalition. Basescu no longer had access to his office at the Cotroceni Presidential Palace, and carried out his activity in an improvised office, located in a garage, during the period of his suspension from office.
“I saw Catherine Day’s black list. That list never reached me either. That letter is dated 18 July 2012. I was at the garage on that date. I was fighting that boy. It didn’t reach me, if it reached Crin Antonescu he should have bequeathed it to me. I didn’t receive such a thing on my arrival at Cotroceni. I didn’t see a to-do list,” Traian Basescu stated for RomaniaTV private broadcaster, referring to a document dated 10 October 2012, addressed to the Government of Romania and presenting a list of 21 European Commission demands related to the CVM, a document that Antena3 private broadcaster presented.
Ponta: Basescu lies, he wasn’t suspended when it was sent as he claims
Ex-Premier Victor Ponta accused ex-President Traian Basescu of lying, after the latter claimed, on Tuesday evening, that the European Commission letter asking for information on cases of alleged high-level corruption was dated 12 July 2012, when he was suspended from office. Traian Basescu reconsidered his statements on Wednesday morning, stating that he presented the wrong date and that the letter was sent in October 2012, when he was back in office, however it was not sent to him but “very likely” to Victor Ponta or to the Justice Minister.
“Basescu (Dragnea the Liar’s great role model) comes up and lies again – he “was suspended when the letter arrived”!!! If you look below, the letter is from 10.10.2012, namely over a month after the impeached Basescu was back (in fact on August 28) at Cotroceni, even though 90 percent of the referendum voters had told him to leave,” Victor Ponta wrote on Facebook on Wednesday evening, after Traian Basescu stated that he was suspended from office at the time the EC sent the letter.
Ponta adds that the letter was sent because Traian Basescu and Monica Macovei denounced them at the European Commission.
“The letter came precisely because Basescu and Macovei denounced us at the Commission – it is addressed to Justice Minister Mrs Mona Pivniceru (it didn’t arrive at the Government). Obviously, nobody is asking the addressee about it and they all go on TV and opine about this!” Victor Ponta added.
The ex-Premier also claimed that Basescu, Iohannis and Ciolos promised to have the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism lifted but it was not.
“The letter is based on the MCV – namely that mechanism that Basescu, Iohannis and Ciolos promised they would lift if they were in power instead of the PSD – you can see how much they lifted it, yes? We have the highest inflation rate in Europe, the highest budget deficit, the biggest problem with the trade balance, the Euro keeps growing against the Leu, foreign investments are dropping and we have absorbed 4.5 percent of European grants in the fourth year of the budgetary exercise (1 percent per year, so in 100 years we’ll take all the money)! And we are debating Basescu’s lies about 2012!!! We are a wonderful country and we are watching TV!” Ponta concluded.
Basescu reconsiders initial statements: I erroneously claimed it was dated 12.07.2012, I sincerely regret the error
Ex-President Traian Basescu reconsidered his statements in a message posted on Facebook on Wednesday morning. In it, he says he was wrong about the date on which the European Commission sent the letter: “Correction! On 20.03.2018, I intervened by phone on a television channel and erroneously claimed that the European Commission letter demanding concrete results in the fight against corruption was dated 12.07.2012, emphasising that I was suspended at that moment.”
Basescu points out that the letter is dated 10.10.2012, while he was back in office, and apologises for the error.
“In fact, the letter is dated 10.10.2012, I was back in office on that date. I sincerely regret the error I made. I point out that the letter was not addressed to the President of Romania but to the Government of Romania, most likely to former Prime Minister Victor Viorel Ponta or to the Justice Minister who, alongside the CSM, are the European Commission’s partners in the CVM monitoring,” he went on to say.