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April 11, 2021
JUSTICE

CSM clears proposal to appoint Felix Banila as chief prosecutor of DIICOT

The Prosecutor Section of the Superior Council of Magistrates (CSM) greenlighted on Tuesday Justice Minister Tudorel Toader’s proposal to appoint Felix Banila as chief prosecutor of the Directorate for Investigating Organized Crime and Terrorism (DIICOT).

The opinion is non-binding and will be transmitted to the Justice Ministry. The Justice Minister announced on Tuesday that he will forward the CSM’s opinion to the President “regardless of the opinion, because it’s non-binding.”

Prosecutor Felix Banila was interviewed on Tuesday by the CSM’s Section for Prosecutors. Before the interview, he had stated that his 22 years of seniority and his professional experience recommend him.

“Let’s all be patient, because I was telling you we are in this second procedural stage. I will be more open with you after this overture materialises. [I’m recommended] by my 22 years of seniority, by the professional experience I have accumulated so far, and I believe I have all the necessary qualities,” Felix Banila stated at the CSM headquarters.

Combating terrorism and drug trafficking is among the priorities mentioned by Felix Banila, according to the managerial project posted on the CSM website. The document has 37 pages and consists of general considerations regarding judicial management, the purpose and competence of the DIICOT, strategic and operational objectives.

Felix Banila considers that DIICOT’s medium and long-term objectives need to harmonize with what the Co-operation and Verification Mechanism (CVM) defined as being “an efficient justice act, in compliance with high standards of ethics and professionalism.” In consequence, he intends to structure the lines of action in strategic objectives (meant to reform and improve the operational capacity and action of DIICOT through their correlation with the objectives established in the judicial reform strategy), operational objectives (which derive from the Organisation and Functioning Regulations) and specific objectives (which derive from the immediate activities which need to be carried out at the level of DIICOT).

Among the strategic objectives are combating organized crime and terrorism, maintaining the professional and moral integrity of prosecutors and support personnel, raising the level of the recovery of proceeds of crime, but also preventing crimes in the areas of competence.

 

Banila on chances of being dismissed at any time: I haven’t even been appointed, am I already thinking about dismissal?

 

Prosecutor Felix Banila, nominated by the Justice Minister for the office of Chief Prosecutor of the DIICOT, was asked on Tuesday for his opinion on the fact that, following the CCR decision, he could be dismissed from office at any time. He pointed out that “I haven’t even been appointed, am I already thinking about dismissal?”

“It’s a subsequent, potential stage which I can’t consider at this moment. I haven’t even been appointed, am I already thinking about dismissal?” Felix Banila stated after the almost 4-hour interview before the CSM’s Section for Prosecutors.

 

Prosecutor Felix Banila on protocols with SRI: I didn’t understand why they were classified. I rule out signing new ones

Asked for his opinion on the protocols concluded with the SRI, prosecutor Felix Banila stated that he does not understand why they were classified, pointing out that he does not intend to conclude any other such documents.

“In what concerns the protocols, I didn’t have any prerogative, I was a chain link within the Public Ministry. As a personal opinion, I didn’t understand why they were classified, because basically nothing else is being done except putting in writing an already existing methodology,” Felix Banila stated during the hearing.

Asked whether he plans to conclude any other new protocols with the intelligence services, Banila said: “No, out of the question.”

 

Banila attacks Horodniceanu: 76 defendants acquitted. Number of unsolved cases up by 15 pc

 

Prosecutor Felix Banila criticised the activity of the Directorate currently led by Daniel Horodniceanu, pointing out that the number of unsolved cases has grown by 15 percent.

“The number of cases solved by the directorate’s prosecutors has dropped year-on-year in 2017, and what is gladdening is that the number of indictments has slightly risen. (…) The stock of unsolved dossiers has risen, and the percentage-wise growth is fairly important – 15 percent. (…) The analysis of the judicial activity mustn’t be neglected because this is basically the finality of criminal prosecution. In court or following the trial of cases as a result of legislation, one can notice the level of performance and the effort exerted by our colleagues. What I noticed by analysing the judicial activity is the fact that 76 defendants were acquitted, and 20 of them were placed under pre-trial arrest. I don’t want to stand out as a critic of this structure, but analysing these aspects is called for, and we must see what can be done to lower this indicator, because it’s a negative indicator,” Felix Banila stated.

He added that among the cases carried through at the level of DIICOT, 13 cases were solved after they expired under the statute of limitations.

“What I also note is that 12 of the DIICOT prosecutors were delegated in leadership positions, and only one is on secondment to a different unit, namely the aide to the Chief Prosecutor of DIICOT. I find it unnatural for the leadership positions to be vacant, because they block the staffing plan and they block the activity,” Felix Banila added.

 

Toader: It is inadmissible for a DIICOT case to last 11 years. I’m curious how much was spent

 

On Tuesday, Justice Minister Tudorel Toader criticised DIICOT’s activity, pointing out that at present the DIICOT has cases that have lasted 11 years and that he would like to know the sums spent on investigations.

“I said it before and I repeat. I find it absolutely inadmissible for a criminal prosecution case to last 11 years without being solved. If you sit with an unsolved dossier, that principle regarding the celerity of the solution, of solving it in reasonable time, is gone. If the alleged wrongdoers are indicted, we will probably head toward the statute of limitations. I also asked Mr Banila’s contender how this delay could be justified, the Prosecutor General probably knows too, he is probably preoccupied with an answer. The candidate presented the requirement regarding the transparency of the way money from the funds allocated to DIICOT is spent. We know that at this moment there’s a very acute public discussion regarding society’s need to know how much is spent in the carrying out of a criminal probe. I’m curious how much money was spent in that case,” Minister Tudorel Toader said.

Present at the CSM’s Section for Prosecutors where the nomination of Felix Banila as Chief Prosecutor of DIICOT was discussed, the Justice Minister added that Banila had an applied, coherent discourse and the interview before the Justice Ministry’s commission feature both comfortable and less comfortable questions.

“Obviously, I’m talking about Mr Banila, not about his contender, I didn’t plan to do that, and I don’t believe I have to compare the two. In line with the law, I arrived at the Section for Prosecutors to support Mr Banila’s candidacy. I emphasise that the unanimous opinion of the five members of the commission are: he is very well structured, has a very logical and coherent argumentation on the line of perfecting the DIICOT. (…) A dossier, if we want to solve it in reasonable time, the managerial issues are the same, regardless of the Public Ministry’s structures,” Toader added.

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