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April 15, 2021
JUSTICE POLITICS

Petre Lazaroiu, CCR judge who complained of being pressured by presidential aide: We decided to notify the Venice Commission

Petre Lazaroiu, the Constitutional Court of Romania (CCR) judge who complained of being pressured by the Presidential Palace via presidential aide Simina Tanasescu, says that he has notified her that CCR judges are required to defend the Constitution, not to play political games. Regarding his political options, he says he voted for Iohannis.

The Venice Commission will be notified on Monday, as a result of the situation generated by the meeting between presidential aide Simina Tanasescu and CCR Judge Petre Lazaroiu, the magistrate announced on Sunday evening.

“We all (CCR judges – editor’s note) reached the same conclusion: that I must come out publicly because they too have understood that there is a state of danger. Initially, we wanted to notify the Venice Commission on the same day. We left that for Monday. We will think some more,” CCR Judge Petre Lazaroiu stated for Antena3.

He says his colleagues asked him if he has the courage to publicly talk about the meeting he had with the Presidential Palace’s employee.

“Why wouldn’t I. It’s not like I’m now starting to lie, to tell fables. I’m saying what happened to me. Proof of that is that nobody denied it. On the contrary, they confirmed it. Well, they didn’t confirm the contents of the talks,” Lazaroiu added.

 

“I voted for the President. I never voted for PSD”

 

“The whole discussion suggested that there is a preoccupation. Pretty much (he felt he was shown the card – editor’s note). I don’t know, but Simina never wanted, never requested a meeting for any other issue. I was taken aback by this discussion. I told Simina the following thing, apropos the President’s statement vis a vis this issue, because the President was asked what he will do in the Lazaroiu case. The President said we cannot go on like this, but if there is a problem the Court wants to be able to solve it. I, for one, actually voted for the President. I never voted for the PSD. I have nothing against any party, but this was my option. But to say that the CCR decision runs together with what the ruling alliance is saying… And I said – ‘This issue is not up for debate. We were put there to defend the Constitution, to do other things.’ Ms Tanasescu did not react. She took note of what I said,” Petre Lazaroiu stated on Antena3.

 

“President should have said he has no involvement in this issue”

 

The CCR judge who complained of being pressured by presidential aide Simina Tanasescu stated that the President’s best reaction would have been to announce that he has no involvement in this situation.

“I couldn’t vouch for what was sought, but I suspect this is what was sought, me being told that I have a problem. Yes (he felt it as pressure – editor’s note). You see, the Presidential Administration communique and then Cristi Danilet’s communique immediately appeared, saying ‘we didn’t send such a request to the President.’ Well then, they should clarify it between themselves. The two books were at the end. We discussed about books only when leaving. (…) The President should have said he is not preoccupied with this issue,” CCR Judge Petre Lazaroiu told Antena3.

Petre Lazaroiu, who voted in favour of the dismissal of Laura Codruta Kovesi, stated on Friday that presidential aide Simina Lazarescu contacted him and told him his dismissal is being discussed after an NGO asked President Iohannis to dismiss him from office.

The Presidential Administration announced that Simina Tanasescu was on leave and the discussion was purely theoretical, focusing on the request lodged by the VeDem Just civic association. Moreover, the Presidential Administration denied any involvement.

 

“In case Iohannis does not enforce the CCR decision, it’s the branches of government’s problem”

 

Judge Lazaroiu stated that the institution he is a member of did not give the President a deadline for the issuance of the decree dismissing from office the Chief Prosecutor of the National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA) because loyal collaboration between authorities is implied, but that if he refuses to do so then this becomes the branches of government’s problem.

“We have the President, we have the Government, we have the Parliament. It’s the branches of government’s problem. It is not the CCR’s problem. The moment you do not enforce a CCR decision then you stand outside the Constitution. We didn’t give the President a deadline because the law doesn’t stipulate a deadline. Because we start off from loyal collaboration between authorities. If you want to find a deadline, you can only find it by comparison with other situations. For instance, the unconstitutionality exceptions – if Parliament does not set [it] in line with the CCR decision within 45 days then that bill disappears. The effects of the CCR decision exist because even though Parliament did not enforce it, the bills disappeared. We also have the oversight that stems from the promulgation of the law, because the President must promulgate it within 10 days,” CCR Judge Petre Lazaroiu stated for Antena3.

He also stated that it is not normal for a country to be led by an NGO, referring to VedemJust, the NGO that asked the President to dismiss him from office.

“That’s what I too asked myself: must a country be led by NGOs, because the sovereignty belongs to the Romanian people. And the Constitution also says that no person, no group of persons, can exercise sovereignty on their own. This is the rule of law, this is democracy. Regarding the CCR decisions, the Constitution says that they are mandatory from the date of their publication,” Lazaroiu added.

 

On potential referendum: It would be absurd

 

Regarding President Klaus Iohannis’s possibility to trigger a referendum, he stated that the issue raised, namely the dismissal of Laura Codruta Kovesi, could not be a topic because one cannot ask the people to sacrifice an institution for the sake of a person.

“It has no grounds, neither legally nor constitutionally, because you don’t ask in a referendum whether it is good to dismiss Kovesi or not. It would be absurd. You ask the people a question, whether an institution is sacrificed for a person. Nobody disputes the DNA’s constitutional role. Nobody would be able to say – ‘we no longer want the DNA.’ Everybody should say we want the DNA to exist, we want to fight against corruption, but the dismissal cannot be open to debate. It’s been decided,” CCR Judge Petre Lazaroiu stated on Antena3.

Following the CCR decision on the issuance of the decree dismissing Laura Codruta Kovesi from office, President Klaus Iohannis announced he will announce his decision within reasonable time.

The CCR published, on June 7, its substantiation in the case regarding the institutional conflict between the President and the Justice Minister.

 

“They intercepted me based on national security grounds. I was looking in front of my house to see if there are any masked men”

 

CCR Judge Petre Lazaroiu stated on Sunday that in 2007 he was intercepted based on a national security warrant, in a case that was not related to him, and he wasn’t informed until today that he was intercepted.

“They can do this anytime, to anybody (e.n.: making a file at DNA). Do you probably think that I don’t have one? In 2007, I was intercepted with approval issued by the High Court, based on national security grounds. They were intercepting Borbely. At that time, there was a problem with his Investment Manager. I was planning to buy a hunting lodge somewhere in Covasna. I was thinking that I have some money and I’ll stay at the country. I loved the idea. So I asked him? Do you have one? It was around 2007, when it was decided that all the chalets that don’t produce money have to be put on sale. If you have some, and if you can, will you put them on sale? He said “let me check”. One week later, he told me “man, I never thought there are a few chalets”. He put me in touch with the Deputy Manager in charge with the forests. He told me “Sir, I must tell you there’s a problem, we have to register it on the land book. I said “take it out, ‘cause with the money I have (…), and if there’s necessary, I’ll make a bank loan, and if there is not enough, that’s it, I give up, if I cannot cover the amount with what I have” Petre Lazaroiu stated for Antena 3.

The CCR judge says that even after nine years, he wasn’t announced that he was intercepted.

“Those were my talks with Borbely. And since he was intercepted, you know how it is, since he was intercepted, I was intercepted, too. Of course I was caught in the interceptions’ trap, and he went to the President, to Basescu. He said, well, you know, this and that. (…) If Lazaroiu has criminal problems, he will go to ICCJ and they’ll make clean. It was on the Easter holiday, in April 2011, and he called me and told me “you know that an interception warrant was issued. I now who issued it”. You realize that when an interception warrant is issued, a case must exist. You can imagine I was looking in front of my house to see if there are any masked men. I didn’t do anything. I wasn’t involved in anything, only that I was caught in the interceptions’ trap. They called me even after June-July period. They said “relax, we saw you’re not guilty.” It’s incredible, but it’s true. They didn’t tell me until today that I was intercepted” Lazaroiu said.

 

Lazaroiu about a possible DNA case: Anything can happen, but I will not do as Toni Grebla did

 

Regarding the possibility of a future DNA case on his name, CCR Judge Petre Lazaroiu stated that anyone can go through this, as long as a denouncer makes statements, but he wouldn’t act like Toni Grebla, who resigned from CCR in order to be investigated, and then he was acquitted.

“Anything can happen. I mean, some guy makes a denouncement, a case is made. I will not resign if such a thing will happen, because I am a fighter. I will not do as Toni Grebla did” stated the CCR Judge Petre Lazaroiu for Antena 3.

“I’ll be judged, my position will be blocked and we’ll see what will happen. If Toni wouldn’t have resigned, they would have suspended him and when he was wining the trial he would have come back and received money from behind, and also some moral damages. But his mandate is gone…” Lazaroiu added.

The Supreme Court decided on May 11 to acquit former judge of the Constitutional Court Toni Grebla in the case in which he was accused of influence peddling, forgery in documents and coordinating a criminal group. The magistrates’ decision is not final.

Toni Grebla, who resigned from CCR when the investigation was started, stated after he found out the acquittal decision in the case in which searches were made at the ostrich farms, that the decision proves that the magistrates judged according to the evidence in the case, not to the fact that his person was a target.

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