The Constitutional Court of Romania admitted on Wednesday the Government’s notification concerning President Klaus Iohannis’s decision not to dismiss DNA Chief Prosecutor Laura Codruta Kovesi. “We have admitted, with a majority of votes, and we have established that there is a conflict between the Justice Minister and the President, caused by the President’s refusal to comply with the Justice Minister’s proposal,” CCR President Valer Dorneanu announced at the end of the CCR meeting.
“As regards the way forward and the other aspects, you will shortly have them in the press statement, and the arguments elaborated in the decision,” he specified.
Thus, CCR judges established, in the body of the decision that notes the existence of a conflict between branches of government, that the President will issue the decree dismissing the DNA Chief Prosecutor from office. According to them, the solution to the conflict is the issuance of the decree.
The Constitutional Court judges took the decision in a 6:3 vote. Judicial sources quoted by Agerpres pointed out that judges Livia Stanciu, Daniel Morar and Stefan Minea voted against.
CCR: Romania’s President to issue decree for revoking DNA’s Chief Prosecutor
The President of Romania is to issue the decree for revoking the chief prosecutor of Romania’s National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA), remarking the existence of a legal constitutional conflict generated by the refusal of the head of state to green-light the proposal of revocation, reads a release issued on Wednesday by Romania’s Constitutional Court.
“The Court, by a majority of votes, has noted: 1 – It finds the existence of a legal conflict of constitutional nature between the Minister of Justice and the President of Romania, generated by the refusal of the President of Romania to green-light the proposal to revoke from office the Chief Prosecutor of the National Anticorruption Directorate, Mrs. Laura Codruta Kovesi; 2 – The President of Romania is to issue the decree for revoking the Chief Prosecutor of the National Anticorruption Directorate, Mrs. Laura Codruta Kovesi,” reads the press release.
Constitutional Court admits notification regarding President vs. Gov’t conflict over dismissal of Laura Kovesi
Constitutional Court of Romania (CCR) judges admitted, on Wednesday, the notification regarding the institutional conflict between the Government and the Presidency, after President Klaus Iohannis refused to dismiss National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA) Chief Prosecutor Laura Codruta Kovesi.
On Thursday, May 10, both the Justice Minister and the Presidency presented their points of view.
“The fact that the Romanian President doesn’t have a veto right. Had the President exercised his refusal on grounds of non-legality of the procedure, he should have asked the Minister to re-examine the request so as to meet the legal conditions. But the procedure of non-legality is not raised, because the President did not invoke it, he invoked the political advisability through verbal statements. In our opinion, by thus tackling the dismissal procedure, the President saw fit to simply block the dismissal procedure. He gave a political answer pertaining to advisability. However, accepting this advisability would mean consecrating the reverse of what is written in the Constitution. In our opinion, the President’s role in the appointment and dismissal procedure cannot be and is not a political one. Based on the considerations shown, the refusal infringes upon the constitutional role of the Justice Minister and upon the independence of prosecutors,” Tudorel Toader stated on May 10, at the Constitutional Court.
On the other hand, Presidential aide Simina Tanasescu pointed out that the refusal is not the cause of an institutional deadlock but represents the exercising of a legal prerogative on the part of the Head of State.
“You were invested with solving a non-existent conflict of a constitutional nature. (…) The notification does not concern a conflict because there is no conflict. Article 54, Section 1, of the judicial system law shows what are the prerogatives of each authority involved in this procedure. The Minister drew-up a proposal. The Supreme Magistracy Council endorsed it. The President gave an answer. The Minister did not offer an endorsement and did not take a decision. The CSM did not come up with the proposal and did not take the decision. The President of Romania did not come up with the proposal and did not endorse it. Each of the three authorities acted within the limits of the prerogatives established by Article 54, Section 1. The President responded via an administrative act. (…) In this case there is no conflict. None of the authorities overstepped their prerogatives, nor did they abstain from doing what they were required to do by the applicable law,” Presidential aide Simina Tanasescu stated before the Constitutional Court.
On February 22, Justice Minister Tudorel Toader demanded that DNA Chief Prosecutor be dismissed from office, accusing her of 20 “intolerable acts.” Among them, Toader mentioned the investigation in the case concerning Government Emergency Ordinance no.13, her refusal to take part in parliamentary hearings, forgeries in case files, lack of a proper reaction to the case of the alleged abuses committed at DNA Ploiesti, and harming Romania’s image by misinforming the European bodies.
For 80 minutes, Justice Minister Tudorel Toader presented a synthesis of the 36-page report on the managerial activity of the DNA’s leadership, accusing Laura Codruta Kovesi of 20 “intolerable acts,” and demanding her dismissal.
Subsequently, President Klaus Iohannis announced he will not comply with the request to dismiss Laura Codruta Kovesi, arguing that the reasons invoked by Tudorel Toader were not convincing.
President Iohannis before the CCR decision in Kovesi case: I’ll read it and act accordingly
Waiting for the CCR decision, President Klaus Iohannis stated on Wednesday that he will read the Court’s decision, will wait for its substantiation, and will act accordingly, against the backdrop in which Constitutional Court magistrates must establish whether there was a Government vs. Presidency conflict when the President refused to dismiss Kovesi.
“Regardless of what the Court decides, I will wait for the decision, for the substantiation, I will read it and I will act accordingly,” Klaus Iohannis stated.
Reactions after CCR verdict
JusMin: President has no competence to assess high-ranking prosecutors
Following the CCR decision according to which there is a constitutional conflict between the Executive and the Presidency, Justice Minister Tudorel Toader claimed that the Romanian President has no legal competence to assess high-ranking prosecutors.
“The CCR decision capitalises on the constitutional principle according to which prosecutors carry out their activity under the authority of the Justice Minister. The Romanian President has no legal competence to assess the professional or managerial competences of high-ranking prosecutors, unlike the Justice Minister who has such a prerogative, established at both the constitutional and infra-constitutional levels,” Tudorel Toader wrote on Facebook.
Tariceanu: President must comply with dismissal request. He has a solemn role
Senate Speaker Calin Popescu Tariceanu stated on Wednesday, after the CCR’s decision concerning the existence of an institutional conflict between the President and the Justice Minister, that the Head of State must comply with the request to dismiss Laura Codruta Kovesi.
He said that the CCR has strengthened the Government’s and the Justice Minister’s position, stressing that the Public Ministry is functioning under the authority of the Justice Minister.
“Today, CCR is strengthening the position of the Government and of the Justice Minister regarding the institutional relation between the Justice Minister and the Public Ministry. CCR underlines that the Public Ministry is functioning under the authority of the Justice Minister, as the Constitution provides by an explicit and unequivocal manner, and the President has only a solemn role and gives weight and legality to the appointment and dismissal decision regarding prosecutors. We’re talking about the legislation that is currently in force. The President cannot have a decisive role in appointing or dismissing them, and the assessment of the activity carried out by the Public Ministry and prosecutors belongs to the Justice Minister” he also explained.
He mentioned that today is a very important day for the consolidation of the republican nature of Romania’s parliamentary democracy.
“From my point of view, today is a very important day for the consolidating of the republican nature of Romania’s parliamentary democracy. For a very long time, I heard discussions about Romania as a semi-presidential republic, starting from the idea that the President is voted directly. This is not a defining criterion, but the President’s attributes are those that matter” he added.
Asked about what the PSD-ALDE coalition will do if President Klaus Iohannis will refuse to dismiss Codruta Kovesi, Tariceanu replied: “The Court’s decisions are binding for everybody and they must be applied, therefore they are valid also for the President. The President is part of the constitutional architecture and he cannot escape from these obligation he has, especially since the President is the guarantor of respecting the Constitution”.
Catalin Predoiu after CCR’s announcement: It’s a juridically erroneous decision
House lawmaker Catalin Predoiu (PNL), member of the committee tasked with amending the judicial laws, stated on Wednesday, referring to the CCR’s decision, that it is erroneous from a technical-juridical standpoint.
“In general, I abstain from commenting on CCR decisions. But, in this case, we have a fundamentally erroneous decision from a technical-juridical standpoint. The notification was inadmissible. Besides the fact that the law is very clear in what concerns the presidential prerogatives, there can be no juridical conflict within the same government branch, that is why in theory we talk about a juridical, constitutional conflict between branches of government. Read the statement of University Professor Dr. Simina Tanasescu, made at the CCR, and you will find impeccable and unbeatable arguments. So then, what counter-arguments defeated them in CCR’s view? Probably the advisability ones. But when you defeat law with advisability you invade its sphere or the other way around, you leave the sphere of legal principles. Let us now see both the substantiation and the solution concretely identified by the CCR to the conflict,” Catalin Predoiu wrote on Facebook.
USR says Iohannis might disregard CCR decision
House lawmaker Ion Stelian (USR), member of the special committee on the judicial laws, stated on Wednesday that President Klaus Iohannis might disregard the CCR’s decision in case he is obligated to dismiss Laura Codruta Kovesi.
“We too found out a short time ago about the long-awaited CCR decision. In what concerns us, unfortunately, we can’t say we are very surprised. Lately we have seen a whole series of CCR decisions that seem to consistently help the ruling power. The CCR decisions are mandatory, we must observe them, but we can take the liberty to comment too, and we can also level criticism against an institution that, with each passing day, is showing ever more clearly that CCR judges are politically appointed. Until we see the substantiation, we only found arguments to the contrary. We expected a rejection, we see no conflict of a constitutional nature, and we don’t consider that the President simply exercising a legal prerogative is an infringement of the Constitution. An attempt is made to take away some of the President’s important prerogatives, the confiscation – if you like – of some prerogatives,” USR lawmaker Ion Stelian said.
Asked whether the President could refuse to enforce the CCR decision, Ion Stelian said: “I can tell you that a very active President, in such murky moments that affect Romanian democracy and rule of law, can consider such an option too, because he has constitutional legitimacy. (…) There is no route for appeal, but, similarly, there is also no way of coercing the President to obey this decision,” the USR lawmaker added.
Nicolicea says Iohannis could be forced to dismiss Kovesi after CCR decision
House lawmaker Eugen Nicolicea (PSD) stated on Wednesday, after the Constitutional Court ruled that there is a constitutional conflict between the President and the Justice Minister over the dismissal of Laura Codruta Kovesi, that, depending on the CCR’s substantiation, the Head of State could be forced to dismiss the DNA Chief Prosecutor.
“There are several, from the obligation to issue the dismissal decree to the redoing of the substantiation, you know that the President had a substantiation based on advisability, which is unacceptable. In the end, the solutions that the CCR clearly writes. As you know, the Court admitted the existence of this conflict, but did not tell us anything about the way to solve it. Not in the sense it said, nor contrary to it. The Court, when it publishes its substantiation, its considerations, there we will also find the solution to the conflict,” Eugen Nicolicea said.
Former CCR judge Toni Grebla considers that the CCR will force the President to go through all stages of the procedure to dismiss Kovesi
Former Constitutional Court of Romania (CCR) judge Toni Grebla stated for Mediafax on Wednesday, after the CCR decision that noted the existence of a conflict between the Presidency and the Government over the issue of dismissing Codruta Kovesi, that in his opinion the magistrates will force the Head of State to continue the dismissal.
“As I stated as early as last month, based on the constitutional provisions, on what the law on the magistracy stipulates, and on the President’s refusal, and considering the CCR’s recent jurisprudence, the decision to admit [the notification] was predictable, it is logical and constitutional. After the Constitutional Court’s decision is published in the Official Journal, we will see what the opinion of the Court is, mandatory for all institutions and all persons in Romania. This decision will also include the way out of this constitutional impasse generated by the President’s refusal to dismiss the DNA Chief. In my opinion, the CCR will note that the President’s refusal to promulgate the dismissal decree is unjustified, unconstitutional, and will force the President to go through all the stages of the dismissal procedure by issuing the Presidential decree through which the President, noting the Justice Minister’s requests, will promulgate the decree on the dismissal of Laura Codruta Kovesi,” Toni Grebla stated for the Mediafax press agency.
Basescu: CCR has issued a decision of a rare wickedness. Actually, since today, prosecutors of the great prosecutor’s offices are subordinated to the political Government
Former President Traian Basescu claims that CCR has issued “a decision of a rare wickedness”, and “actually, since today, prosecutors of the great prosecutor’s offices are subordinated to the political Government”.
“Dragnea and Tariceanu succeeded to implement USL’s dream: ‘WE DON’T HAVE THE POWER UNTIL WE DON’T HAVE JUSTICE’. In the case of the conflict between Kovesi and Tudorel Toader, the Constitutional Court has issued a decision of a rare wickedness. Actually, since today, the prosecutors of the great prosecutor’s office are subordinated to the political Government, through the Justice Minister” Traian Basescu wrote on his Facebook page.
He claims that CCR has sent the justice back to the level of the year 2004, when “the decisions related to the criminal cases were taken in the PSD headquarters by Mrs. Stanoiu, together with Adrian Nastase, Victor Viorel Ponta, Mike Spaga, Marian Oprisan and many other socialist politicians”.
Traian Basescu accuses the Constitutional Court that it annulled 14 years of progress in the process of consolidating the independence of Justice.
“I’m not saying that Justice hasn’t done abuses in its independence, that it didn’t harassed and sentenced innocent people, but these things must be repaired through laws, by implementing the CCR decisions and the EU directives into legislation, or by actions performed by CSM and Judicial Inspection, but in no case by subordinating prosecutor’s offices to a political control” Basescu added.
Prosecutor Horodniceanu: CCR has placed prosecutor’s offices under discretionary power of JusMin
Chief prosecutor of the Directorate for Investigating of Organised Crime and Terrorism (DIICOT) Daniel Horodniceanu believes that by its latest ruling, the Constitutional Court of Romania (CCR) actually placed the prosecutors not under the authority, but under the discretionary power of the minister of justice, who is either a politician or enjoys political support.
“By today’s decision, the Constitutional Court has actually placed the prosecutor’s offices not under the authority but under the discretionary power of the minister of justice, who is either a politician or enjoys political support. The constitutional guarantor of judicial independence, the Supreme Council of Magistrates (CSM), was reduced to a barren role, invited to be an extra,” Horodniceanu told Agerpres.
He said that the consultative opinion of the CSM Prosecution Section “is useless” if at the end of the decision-making chain lies only the President’s obligation to respect the minister’s decision.
“It is a logical aberration if we want an independent judiciary. In this consecration of the interpretation of the law, the demarcation line between the state powers is being erased to the detriment of the independence of a part of the judicial authority, the prosecutor magistrates. This also calls into question the binding character of the CCR decision,” said Horodniceanu.