On Tuesday, Senate Speaker Calin Popescu Tariceanu sent Supreme Magistracy Council (CSM) President Simona Marcu a letter in which he asks several questions regarding the magistrates’ cooperation with the Romanian Intelligence Service (SRI), the legal basis for it, and the need for the interlink.
“The topic I bring to your attention, and that worries me very much, is the discrepancy created between, on one hand, the constitutional framework created almost three decades ago to guarantee the citizens’ right to defence and the right to have free access to the judiciary and to a fair trial featuring panels of competent, impartial and independent judges and, on the other hand, the disregarding and even flagrant infringing, on the part of various structures of the judicial system, of these constitutional rights that the Constitutional Assembly raised at the European standards of the Council of Europe and the European Union. New information regarding the intervention of specialised bodies of the Romanian Intelligence Service in the activity of prosecutors and judges, despite their status as independent magistrates, appears daily. I find it extremely grave that leadership bodies from the Public Ministry, Court of Appeals and even the High Court of Cassation and Justice accepted – under the sign of special technical cooperation – the direct interference of the SRI not only in the criminal investigation and prosecution stages of the trial but also in the actual trial proceedings. I am not talking about the dossiers in which SRI structures have special and recognised technical competence through criminal procedure norms, as special criminal investigation bodies, but about numerous other criminal dossiers formed with evidence that the SRI provided outside the legal framework. According to the Constitution, the rendering of justice is reserved for judges, no other public authority having the right to interfere in the act of justice,” reads the letter that the Senate Speaker sent to CSM President Simona Marcu.
Calin Popescu Tariceanu then asks some questions regarding the activity of magistrates and their cooperation with other structures.
“Does the judicial branch need the cooperation – not to say direct intervention – of SRI officers in order to carry out its constitutional role and to defend the rights of the citizen? Do case prosecutors need to draw up criminal prosecution dossiers with the direct intervention of SRI officers? This way, special structures of the intelligence service have gained direct and unconditional access to the dossiers thus drawn-up, which is unacceptable for the rule of law. These are not rhetorical questions, Madam President. These are questions that Romanian citizens ask themselves and, I am convinced, many prosecutors and judges ask themselves too,” the letter reads.
At the same time, Calin Popescu Tariceanu refers to the magistrates’ access to classified information and the way they could be coerced through the enforcement of the protocol with the SRI.
“I wonder why the Supreme Magistracy Council felt the need to introduce among the duties of magistrates the obligation to sign the commitment, considering that the Criminal Code stipulates sufficient measures for the safekeeping of the confidentiality of data and information present in criminal dossiers? What guarantee does the defendant still have that the case prosecutor will not accept the evidence presented by the SRI – based on the Protocol concluded with the DNA – in the form of classified information? I doubt such a “fabricated” dossier will be easily solved by a panel whose judges did not sign the commitment included in the regulations approved by the Supreme Magistracy Council. As you well know, the cases in which courts finalised criminal dossiers by issuing acquittals due to a lack of evidence are not few. Society receives such decisions with satisfaction. I am convinced, Madam President, that some of these dossiers, in which acquittals were ruled, also included evidence that the Romanian Intelligence Service provided to the case prosecutors based on the protocol concluded with the National Anticorruption Directorate. The judges who issued these court rulings deserve society’s appreciation.
“Since the classified documents included in some dossiers that are on the dockets of courts come from the SRI’s specialised bodies, it means its officers know, down to the details, the contents of the said dossiers and at least the body of evidence. In these conditions, can the presiding judge still be impartial and judge independently?” the Senate Speaker points out.
Tariceanu is asking the CSM President to verify, in the plenum, the regulations regarding the magistrates’ access to classified information.
“Considering the above, I ask you, Madam President, to bring to the attention of the Supreme Magistracy Council’s plenum, in line with the principle of loyal institutional cooperation, the regulations concerning the access of judges, prosecutors, and assistant magistrates of the High Court of Cassation and Justice to information classified as state secret and trade secret, in order to analyse whether it is in line with the principles of the rule of law and with the constitutional provisions concerning access to justice and the right to defence,” reads the Senate Speaker’s request.