Referring to his candidacy dossier for the office of Prosecutor General and Justice Minister Tudorel Toader’s accusations according to which the dossier included a decision to close a case that concerned President Klaus Iohannis, Prosecutor General Augustin Lazar stated on Friday that the Superior Council of the Magistracy (CSM) has informed him that such a decision does not exist in his dossier. Likewise, he pointed out that regulations stipulate submitting to the analysis of the CSM 10 cases handled by the candidate, doing so not being about influencing the President since the cases are not meant for him.
“It certainly can’t be interpreted that the goal sought by submitting a certain decision among the 10 cases requested by the CSM was allegedly to influence the President of Romania, these cases not being forwarded to him. For the clarification of all aspects, I have asked the CSM to officially inform me whether such a decision to close the case is included in my candidacy dossier. The fact that there isn’t one was confirmed to me by phone, and I will get the written answer in the following days too,” Lazar states, pointing out that he turned to the CSM because the Council manages the magistrates’ professional dossiers, “in line with the law and by virtue of its role as guarantor of the independence of the judiciary.”
In a communique issued on Friday evening, the Prosecutor General explains that, in line with the provisions of Article 21, Ind.1, of CSM Plenum Decision no.193/2006 on adopting “The Regulations concerning the transfer and secondment of judges and prosecutors, the delegation of judges, the appointment of judges and prosecutors in other leadership offices, as well as the appointing of judges as prosecutor and of prosecutors as judges,” the candidate for the office of Prosecutor General lodges with the Section for Prosecutors, for the issuance of an opinion, a number of 10 cases handled as judge or prosecutor.
These cases are analysed by the CSM’s Section for Prosecutors in order to establish the candidate’s skills, namely: capacity for analysis and synthesis, coherence, clarity and logic of arguments, avoidance of listing and detailing of irrelevant aspects, clear and concise writing, analysis and interpretation of evidence, as well as the way in which the ECHR and ECJ jurisprudence was enforced if needed.
“These cases are requested by the CSM based on the regulations and are destined exclusively for the issuance of its opinion on the appointment in office. Subsequently, the Justice Minister’s nomination, the substantiated opinion of the CSM’s Section for Prosecutors, and the candidate’s resume are forwarded to the President of Romania,” Augustin Lazar points out.
Against the backdrop of the triggering of the procedure to have Prosecutor General Augustin Lazar dismissed from office, Justice Minister Tudorel Toader has questioned the legality of his appointment in office.
“Based on the documents we have, we cannot conclude why the minister sent the nomination with an incomplete dossier, why the President signed the appointment in office without verifying its legality, and I don’t believe the appointment in office in the absence of all documents is linked with one of the documents included in the candidacy dossier, namely a resolution to close a case concerning the incumbent President of Romania, issued by prosecutor Lazar. I can’t find the explanation,” Tudorel Toader stated.
“The candidacy dossier did not include any document regarding the ‘very good’ mark given in the latest evaluation. The mark of the latest evaluation was missing. It’s true that the endorsement issued by the Section for Prosecutors does not mention the failure to meet this requirement. I tried to document this report, there was no evaluation, it remained at the CSM. I asked the CSM to put the evaluation reports at our disposal. We were told: the present evaluation report was drawn up today, 20 April 2017, in three copies. So, long after his appointment in office,” the minister added.
DNA General Assembly supports request to JusMin Toader to cancel removal of AG Lazar
The General Assembly of the National Anti-Corruption Directorate (DNA) decided on Friday to support a request to Minister of Justice Tudorel Toader to cancel the procedures for the removal from office of Romania’s Attorney General Augustin Lazar.
Following the initiation of the removal from office of Prosecutor General Mr. Augustin Lazar, the General Assembly of DNA met on October 26, 2018, at the request of over one third of all prosecutors within DNA, (…) to voice support of the joint statement of the Romanian Judges’ Forum Association and the Movement for the Defence of the Prosecutors’ Statutes dated October 25, 2018,” reads a DNA press statement released on Friday.
The DNA General Assembly also adopted a message requesting for the safeguard of the independence of prosecutors.
“DNA prosecutors are hereby voicing their attachment to the values of the rule of law and respect for the principle of judicial independence overall, which implies clear, strong and effective safeguards to respect the independence of prosecutors in the exercise of their duties provided for by law. Consequently, the removal of prosecutors holding senior positions must be thoroughly justified against objective criteria and avoid the risk of disproportionate decisions and a climate of intimidation and pressure on prosecutors,” reads the message.
By Friday morning, more than 1,000 magistrates had already expressed their support to the request to Minister of Justice Tudorel Toader to abandon the procedures for removing Romania’s attorney general, according to the Judges’ Forum. The association published a list of 1,030 judges, prosecutors and court auditors who supported the request sent to Tudorel Toader.
The Romanian Judges’ Forum Association and the Movement for the Protection of the Status of Prosecutors Association have asked the Justice Minister on Thursday to abandon the dismissal of Augustin Lazar.
“The Romanian Judges’ Forum Association, a professional association of judges, and the Movement for the Defence of the Prosecutors’ Statutes, a professional association of prosecutors, are hereby firmly asking the Minister of Justice, Tudorel Toader, to immediately abandon the procedure for removing from office Attorney General Augustin Lazar. Such a procedure, which practically bypasses the guarantor of judicial independence, namely the Supreme Council of Magistrates (CSM), whose role is for show only, and which disregards the right of defence of the prosecutor subject to removal, was harshly criticised by the Venice Commission, GRECO and the European Commission, endangering Romania’s path inside the European Union and in the Council of Europe, and the democratic existence of the Romanian state itself, not to mention the negative and discouraging signal to an important part of the magistrates.”