Coming after five postponements, the Supreme Court magistrates’ decision on Thursday to acquit ex-Premier Victor Ponta and ex-Senator Dan Sova in the Turceni-Rovinari case – in which they were indicted for corruption, in relation to the signing of consultancy contracts – has triggered a wave of vehement reactions regarding the way the National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA) is churning out dossiers to sideline persons considered inconvenient by certain circles. Whether the targets of these dossiers are politicians (if we consider the Ponta case, incumbent Premier at the time he was indicted by the DNA) or magistrates (worth mentioning Toni Grebla – former Constitutional Court judge, Corneliu Birsan – former ECHR judge, or Tiberiu Nitu – former Prosecutor General).
Dossiers that then unravel in court due to a lack of evidence, and the defendants are absolved of any wrongdoing. Something that could only raise questions the likes of: “who is accountable?” or “who pays?” for the losses in terms of PR, public dignity and position suffered by the targets of such dossiers.
Victor Ponta’s first reaction after the acquittal
Immediately after he was acquitted in the court of first instance, ex-Premier Victor Ponta posted on his Facebook page a message in which he praised the judges “who resist all pressures,” and criticised the DNA prosecutors.
“I’m glad justice can be served in Romania / I’m sorry that such abuses and frame-ups occurred and are still occurring in our country / and I’m glad there are judges who resist all pressures and do their duty of enforcing the law!
“I thank my lawyer Florin Surghie and all those who always believed I was innocent / and I have no negative feelings toward all those who have taken joy in my distress for 3 years even though they knew I was innocent.
“I apologise to my mother, to Daciana and to other members of my family who had the most to suffer due to my political activity.
“Aside from the three years of humiliations, from the loss of the office of PSD President and Prime Minister, I would like everyone to think whether it’s normal to be living in a country in which Kovesi, her little old men [referring to the name of the prosecutor who handled his case – Jean Uncheselu; unchesel means little old man in Romanian – editor’s note] and oranges [referring to the nickname given to DNA prosecutor Mircea Negulescu – “Orange”, the protagonist of several public scandals] commit abuses, forge evidence and break the law and call you a “lawbreaker” to further their petty interests / and whether it’s normal for nobody to ever be held accountable for these crimes.
“I have learned very much during this painful period – I’ll remember this lesson throughout my future activity.”
Tudorel Toader’s reaction: Ask Cotroceni!
Justice Minister Tudorel Toader had a sarcastic reaction following the Supreme Court’s decision to acquit ex-Premier Victor Ponta in the Turceni-Rovinari case.
Asked what this acquittal means – from his standpoint as Justice Minister – for the National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA) and the Directorate’s leadership, Tudorel Toader said: “Ask at Cotroceni [Presidential Palace]!”
Tariceanu: ICCJ offers proof of independence
Senate Speaker and Alliance of Liberals and Democrats (ALDE) leader Calin Popescu Tariceanu stated that the ICCJ’s decision to acquit ex-Premier Victor Ponta and ex-Minister Dan Sova, in the court of first instance, proves that the Supreme Court is independent and understands the role given to it by the Constitution.
“I salute the decision that the ICCJ has taken in Victor Ponta’s dossier. The ICCJ offers proof of independence and shows that it sees fit to exercise the role attributed by the Constitution. The decision was taken without considering the external pressures and is proof that this is how a democratic system must function. I believe the judicial reforms will once again generate confidence in the democratic and liberal values that Romania needs. In recent weeks we have seen many examples of independence in numerous courts, and I’m sure the evidence concerning the abuses and excesses of the deep state have weighed heavily in these decisions,” Calin Popescu Tariceanu wrote in a Facebook posting.
Codrin Stefanescu: Following ICCJ’s decision, it’s imperative that Iohannis publicly admit that this dossier was fabricated on the orders of a Securitate-like system, to weaken PSD and to replace Gov’t
PSD Deputy General Secretary Codrin Stefanescu states that the Supreme Court’s decision to acquit ex-Premier Victor Ponta obligates President Klaus Iohannis to publicly apologise for all the statements he made at the time, and “it’s imperatively necessary for Iohannis to publicly admit that this dossier was fabricated on the orders of a Securitate-like system, to weaken PSD’s force and to replace the Government.”
In a press release, Codrin Stefanescu claims that the ICCJ’s decision obligates Klaus Iohannis “to publicly apologise to PSD members and sympathisers, but also to the millions of Romanians who voted for PSD.”
“Because, based on this forged dossier, of this fake brewed by the Deep State, Iohannis demanded the resignation of the then-Prime Minister Victor Ponta, “flattered” us with the term ‘party of lawbreakers,’ and, even worse, at that moment claimed that the situation causes PR damage to Romania. And today it is imperative that Iohannis publicly admit that this dossier was forged on the orders of a Securitate-like system, to weaken PSD’s force and to replace the Government. Moreover, Iohannis must publicly admit that the huge PR damage caused to Romania throughout the world, which he was talking about at the time, is caused by the DNA, a toxic institution that has become a veritable national security risk,” PSD’s Deputy Secretary General claims.
He says that the court’s decision strengthens even more the collective opinion that premiers, political party leaders, ministers, mayors and political leaders have been systematically destroyed with such dossiers in recent years, the criminal probes managing to change Romania’s political landscape and the citizens’ vote from the ground up, with the professional and even personal life of elites in all fields of activity being effectively destroyed.
“And Iohannis, who has constantly supported this system, must answer this question before the nation: who is held accountable for these abuses and in what manner?”, Codrin Stefanescu added.
Iordache: A very good decision. I believe it was DNA abuse
House lawmaker Florin Iordache (PSD) stated on Friday, for MEDIAFAX, that in his opinion the ICCJ’s decision to acquit ex-Premier Victor Ponta in the Turceni-Rovinari case, in the court of first instance, is a very good decision and it shows that the DNA committed abuse.
“It’s very good (the decision to acquit Victor Ponta – editor’s note),” ex-Justice Minister Florin Iordache stated.
Asked for his opinion on the DNA activity, against the backdrop of this Supreme Court ruling, Florin Iordache said: “I believe it was an abuse. The way a series of decisions are for acquittal, it means it was noted that there was constant pressure on certain persons.”
Daniel Constantin: Ponta’s acquittal raises uncertainty about DNA
Daniel Constantin, founder of the Pro Romania party, stated on Friday for MEDIAFAX that the ICCJ’s decision to acquit his party colleague Victor Ponta raises uncertainty about the DNA.
“Firstly, I’m happy he is no longer under this pressure. I’m happy justice has been served, and of course there are some remaining question marks, because he is the first Premier after 1989 to be indicted while in office, and we notice that basically that was the start of Victor Ponta’s loss of power. We notice, after three and a half years, that in fact there was no crime, the elements of a crime weren’t met. These are question marks that will remain, aside from my opinion or the opinion of any citizen in this country,” Daniel Constantin stated for MEDIAFAX.
He added that, after this acquittal, the former Prime Minister will get involved even more in the Pro Romania project.
“After Victor Ponta’s acquittal, I believe Pro Romania will grow. Now, Victor Ponta will definitely focus a lot on the project called Pro Romania, and I’m convinced we will have increasingly more followers, and I know what I rely on when saying this,” Constantin said.
Asked whether Pro Romania will enter the race for the parliamentary and European Parliament elections, Daniel Constantin said: “We are prepared, and I’ve understood very clearly Victor Ponta’s hesitation until now. From this moment on, he will definitely get involved more than before, and the teams we already have in each county will be activated. We will run in all European Parliament, parliamentary, presidential elections with our candidates. Based on what he was saying before, Victor Ponta is not interested in this candidacy in 2019, but this is an issue that he must state. I [say it based] only on what I’ve seen in the public space.”
Ponta, memo to Toader, CSM and Prosecutor General featuring all the infringements of the law in the dossier in which he was acquitted. Uncheselu sued
Victor Ponta announced that next week he will send out a memorandum that includes all the infringements of the law in the Turceni-Rovinari dossier in which he was acquitted by the ICCJ, in the court of first instance. The recipients of the memo will be the Justice Ministry, the Supreme Magistracy Council (CSM) and the Prosecutor General of Romania.
“Along with my lawyers, I drew-up a memo in which I wrote what were the infringements of the law in my dossier; I will forward it next week to the Justice Ministry, Supreme Magistracy Council, Prosecutor General of Romania. After which we want to lodge a civil case against Uncheselu, the prosecutor handling the case, I want him to pay out of his own pocket. If the court orders him to pay my salary as Premier, the salary of other directors, lawyers, then next time he will think twice – ‘do I have evidence, because if I don’t these guys will come after me.’ If nobody pays, next time a different prosecutor will do the same. You should know that this is the case in the U.S., in Germany – ‘you wrongly accused someone, you must pay,’” Victor Ponta told RomaniaTV private broadcaster.
He added he is not interested in revenge but in fixing things and that, based on the answers he gets from Justice Minister Tudorel Toader, Prosecutor General Augustin Lazar, and the CSM representatives, he will go before Parliament.
“I will file some documents that are not political in nature, featuring articles from the Criminal Code and Criminal Procedure Code, articles that were broken. Honestly, I don’t believe they will lie, I believe they will tell me that, yes, this or that article was broken. For instance, the prosecutor lied when he issued the press release. Based on those answers, I will go in Parliament and I’ll tell them – colleagues, in the past we told people to vote for us because we will adopt a law that would hold the prosecutor accountable for injustices made, something that hasn’t happened so far. (…) Of course, revenge is sweet, but I’m not interested, I’m interested in fixing things,” Ponta added.
Iohannis asked if he will apologise to Ponta: No!
President Klaus Iohannis says he will not apologise to Victor Ponta, against the backdrop in which he asked Ponta to resign in 2015 and the High Court of Cassation and Justice has now decided to acquit him in the court of first instance.
When asked, after the ‘Blaj 1848-2018: national consciousness and European destiny’ debate that he attended, whether he will apologise to Victor Ponta, after he asked him to resign in 2015 and the ex-Premier has now been acquitted in the Turceni-Rovinari case, Iohannis said: “No.”
Asked for his opinion on the acquittal of Victor Ponta and ex-CCR judge Toni Grebla, Iohannis stated that publicly he cannot express any opinion.
“I have full confidence in the Romanian judiciary and I’m firmly convinced that Justice must remain independent,” Iohannis said.
At the same time, asked about his satisfaction with the DNA’s activity following the most recent acquittals, Iohannis said: “This is definitely an issue that will have to be analysed within the DNA too, whether mistakes were made or not. I cannot pronounce an opinion on these issues. If a discussion at the CSM is desired, likewise, it’s doable, because the CSM is responsible with the independence of the judiciary and, if need be, that is where those discussions must take place, not in the political area.”
In 2015, against the backdrop in which the DNA announced that the then-Premier Victor Ponta had been indicted in a criminal trial, President Klaus Iohannis demanded his resignation, stating that, in his opinion, it was an “impossible situation” for Romania for the Premier to be indicted for criminal offences. Then-Premier Victor Ponta announced that he respects the President’s public position, but he was appointed at the helm of the Government by Parliament and only Parliament can dismiss him.