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October 5, 2022

Kovesi: Criminal Code should never be amended via OUG unless there is a genuine need for urgency, and there is no such urgency

National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA) Chief Prosecutor Laura Codruta Kovesi has stated in an interview that the Criminal Code should never be amended via Government Emergency Ordinance (OUG) unless there is a genuine need for urgency and there is no such urgency at present.

She talked about the DNA and about the fact that the European Union has appreciated the work carried out by the institution. “The results that we have achieved have made us something of a model in the region,” she told Emerging Europe. “The DNA has been presented as an example of good practice by the European Union. I was personally an EU expert for Moldova and Montenegro, evaluating their justice systems.”

On the amendments brought to the Criminal Code, Kovesi stated: “These changes will make it difficult to investigate not just corruption cases, but crimes in general.”

The main concern, Kovesi added, is “the provision which forbids appeal judges from convicting somebody acquitted by a lower court unless the prosecutor introduces new evidence.”

“This is unfair: when a prosecutor presents a case, all evidence has to be included in the file. It is very rare that new evidence appears during a trial,” she explained.

The changes to the Criminal Procedure Code follow other amendments to the judicial system, which Laura Codruta Kovesi says demonstrate that the Government’s aim is not to reform the system but to make things more difficult for investigators, prosecutors, and the police.

“Of course, these changes will not come into force today or tomorrow. They need to be promulgated by the president, who may choose to send them back to parliament, or refer them to the Constitutional Court. Previous experience also suggests that the High Court will table an objection.”

The Government could speed up the process by issuing an emergency ordinance, as it did in January 2017, an action that sparked protests.

“The possibility exists. These changes could be passed via an emergency ordinance, but it is difficult to comment. Theoretically, changes to the Criminal Code should never be made by emergency decree unless there is a genuine need for urgency. With regards to these particular changes, there is no such urgency,” Kovesi added.

In March, Justice Minister Tudorel Toader asked President Klaus Iohannis to dismiss Laura Codruta Kovesi from office. The President stated on Saturday he will discuss this topic next week, after the Constitutional Court decided earlier this month that Iohannis must comply with the Justice Ministry’s request.

“I can’t comment on the decision of the Constitutional Court. It is a decision which affects me personally, but it is a decision which does not oblige me to do anything. I am waiting for the president to decide what he is going to do.”

Laura Codruta Kovesi’s term at the helm of the National Anticorruption Directorate will expire next May.

She pointed out on several occasions that she has no political ambitions and she stands by her statements. “No, I do not want to go into politics. I have said in the past that I have no intention of doing so, and while there are some people who go back on their word, I am not one of them.”

“I want to continue my work. I am a prosecutor: that’s what I do best. I have a wealth of experience that I want to put to good use, to share with young people entering the system,” Kovesi pointed out.


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