The Justice Ministry (JM) published on Wednesday evening explanations regarding Augustin Lazar’s appointment as Prosecutor General, “problems” being identified in the appointment procedure. Thus, it was shown that an ordinance to dismiss a case opened in 2013 on the name of Klaus Iohannis, Mayor of Sibiu at the time, was identified in the candidacy dossier present at the Justice Ministry. The JM informs that it will send to the Superior Council of the Magistracy (CSM) a full copy of the dossier, and will ask it “to confirm or deny, with data and facts, the aspects identified when evaluating the documents included in the copy of the dossier that stood at the basis of Mr Augustin Lazar’s appointment.”
A communique titled “Explanations regarding Mr Augustin Lazar’s appointment as Prosecutor General of the Prosecutor’s Office attached to the High Court of Cassation and Justice” was published on the Justice Ministry’s website on Wednesday evening.
“We point out that these developments do not bring additions to the evaluation report presented on 24 October 2018,” the website reads.
The text contains the dates on which the announcement regarding the triggering of the recruitment procedure for the vacant office, the Justice Minister’s selection, the opinion issued by the Section for Prosecutors of the CSM, and the appointment in office took place.
Next, the “problems identified in the appointment procedure” are presented, regarding the candidacy dossier, the failure to meet the criteria announced for the appointment, the evaluation of prosecutor Augustin Lazar, the Superior Council of the Magistracy’s opinion, relevant cases handled by the candidates, and the President’s prerogatives.
Regarding the relevant cases handled by the candidates, it is pointed out that one cannot exactly identify in the candidacy dossier present at the Justice Ministry the justifying documents concerning the candidate’s professional activity, namely cases handled by the candidate in the compartments in which he carried out his activity and any other documents considered relevant.
According to Article 211, Paragraph (2), of the Regulations on the transfer and secondment of judges and prosecutors, the delegation of judges, the appointment of judges and prosecutors in other leadership positions, as well as the appointment of judges as prosecutors and of prosecutors as judges, adopted on 09.03.2006, “the testimonials listed by Article 55, Paragraph (3), related to Article 48, Paragraph (11), of Law no.303/2004, republished, with subsequent amendments and supplementations, a project on the exercise of the prerogatives specific to the leadership position for which the opinion is issued, a resume of the candidate, 10 cases handled by the candidate within the compartments in which he/she carried out his/her activity, and any other documents deemed relevant are lodged with the Superior Council of the Magistracy, TOGETHER with the Justice Minister’s nomination,” reads the document posted on the JM website.
“An ordinance to dismiss a case opened in 2013, on the name of Mr Klaus Werner Iohannis, Mayor of Sibiu at the time, was identified in Mr Augustin Lazar’s candidacy dossier for the office of Chief Prosecutor of the Prosecutor’s Office attached to the High Court of Cassation and Justice. The case is based on two complaints, one lodged with the National Anticorruption Directorate by a natural person, subsequently sent to the Prosecutor’s Office attached to the Alba Iulia Court of Appeals on 18.07.2013, and another one lodged with the Prosecutor’s Office attached to the High Court of Cassation and Justice by a public institution, sent to the Prosecutor’s Office attached to the Alba Iulia Court of Appeals on 28.08.2013. On that date, according to information from the resume included in the candidacy dossier, Mr Augustin Lazar was Chief Prosecutor of the Prosecutor’s Office attached to the Alba Iulia Court of Appeals,” the source pointed out.
According to the Justice Ministry communique, the evaluation report pointed out that: “We do not know whether the reason for this mistake relates to the fact that the candidacy dossier of the current Prosecutor General included exactly a decision to dismiss a case concerning the incumbent President of Romania. We only took note of all the documents we identified in the dossier present at the Justice Ministry.”
“All the findings of the evaluation report are correct and are based, as we pointed out, on the documents identified within the dossier present at the Justice Ministry,” the communique adds.
In what concerns the President’s prerogatives, it is shown that, in line with Article 54, Paragraph (3), of Law no.303/2004 on the statute of judges and prosecutors, in force on 28 April 2016, “the President of Romania can justifiably refuse the appointment in the leadership offices listed in paragraph (1), making public the reasons for the refusal.”
“Since the President of Romana could have justifiably refused, it is hard to believe he could have substantiated his decision without studying the documents included in the candidacy dossier. We do not know the documents that the President analysed at that time to justify his decision to appoint the Prosecutor General of the Prosecutor’s Office attached to the High Court of Cassation and Justice, because the contents of the dossier sent to the Presidential Administration do not result from the documents present at the Justice Ministry. The aforementioned ordinance to dismiss the case is present in the dossier at the Justice Ministry, dossier pertaining to the procedure to appoint Mr Augustin Lazar as Prosecutor General,” the communique reads.
Next, it is shown that the author of the ordinance to dismiss the case was appointed high-ranking prosecutor by the incumbent President, in line with Article 54, Paragraph (3), of Law no.303/2004 on the statute of judges and prosecutors, at the proposal of the Justice Minister.
“Distinctly from the things presented and considering the discussions about the possibility of publicly revealing copies of the documents identified in Mr Augustin Lazar’s candidacy dossier, I hereby transmit to the Superior Council of the Magistracy a full copy of the dossier present at the Justice Ministry, in the form and order identified, along with the registry file containing the documents received. At the same time, I attach a copy of answer no.18450/19 September 2018, through which the CSM transmitted the evaluation reports focusing on Mr Augustin Lazar’s professional activity. I hereby ask the Superior Council of the Magistracy to confirm or deny, with data and facts, the aspects identified in the evaluation of the documents included in the copy of the dossier that stood at the basis of the decision to appoint Mr Augustin Lazar as Prosecutor General of the Prosecutor’s Office attached to the High Court of Cassation and Justice. At the same time, if the Superior Council of the Magistracy deems that the legal conditions for making public the transmitted documents are met, I express my agreement in this regard,” reads the final part of the communique.
Tudorel Toader: There wasn’t and there isn’t any error regarding the case dismissal ordinance from A. Lazar’s candidacy dossier. My question is this: how the presence of such ordinance is justified in the dossier
Minister of Justice Tudorel Toader specified that there was no “error” in respect to the ordinance of dismissal of the case involving President Iohannis from Prosecutor General Lazar’s candidacy file.
“I just want to specify this! There wasn’t and there isn’t any error regarding the ordinance of dismissal in PG Lazar’s candidacy file,” Tudorel Toader wrote on Wednesday evening on his Facebook page.
He continued with the question “how the presence of such ordinance is justified in the file?” adding that “we finally find out ‘the justification’ – the court clerk made a mistake when multiplying his documents.”
The Minister brought to mind that “another ‘mistake’ also happened on March 20, 2018, when the court clerk multiplied the Secret Protocol of 2009, when she sent it to the Ministry of Justice without the last two pages, which seemed to have “stuck” to the copy sent to the CSM [the Superior Council of Magistracy].”
Augustin Lazar: Typical way of manipulating by distorting the truth. PG claims that JusMin is exploiting a registry error pertaining to the coincidence of names with prosecutor Lazar (Cristian) who signed the dismissal ordinance
Prosecutor General Augustin Lazar argues that Justice Minister Tudorel Toader “is exploiting a registration error from March 2016,” with the ordinance on the dismissal of a case involving President Klaus Iohannis was not issued, confirmed or verified by the prosecutor general, but by another prosecutor with a similar name, Cristian A. Lazar.
“I found out only after one week of suspense that the ordinance invoked by the Minister of Justice was not issued, confirmed or verified by the undersigned in his capacity as prosecutor general with the Prosecutor’s Office attached to the Alba Iulia Court of Appeals, as the Minister seemed to imply, enumerating it [this ordinance] among the reasons for my removal from office. This is a typical method of manipulating the truth. The Minister of Justice exploits a registration error from March 2016, when there were selected the necessary documents for my appointment as prosecutor general with the Prosecutor’s Office attached to the High Court of Cassation and Justice. While making copies of the documents belonging to A. Lazar, the court clerk made a mistake and took his documents as being mine, because of the similarity of our names, but the respective ordinance were in fact issued by the deputy chief prosecutor Cristian A. Lazar from the Prosecutor’s Office attached to the High Court of Cassation and Justice. This severance of causes ordinance with respect to other persons reached, by declining of jurisdiction, to the Prosecutor’s Office attached to the Alba Iulia Court of Appeals, a case that I have assigned to another prosecutor for settlement,” reads a message published on Wednesday evening by Prosecutor General Augustin Lazar.
“The copies of several cases were introduced in an envelope and, along with the management project, were lodged with the Justice Ministry, where the error was noted and removed. The project was published on the Superior Council of the Magistracy’s website on 4-21 April 2016, entering the public debate, during which time the candidate was verified, as ordered by Decision no.235/4 April 2016 adopted by the Section for Prosecutors,” he added.
According to him, through an address, the Superior Council of the Magistracy relayed that the dismissal ordinance, which belonged to a different prosecutor, was not in the candidacy dossier. In fact, the document that bears the name of a different prosecutor cannot be used to verify the candidate’s juridical reasoning.
JusMin Toader: I wouldn’t have accepted Lazar’s incomplete candidacy file in contest for PG office
Minister of Justice Tudorel Toader on Thursday stated that if he were at the helm of the Ministry of Justice back at the time when the contest was held for occupying the prosecutor general office, he wouldn’t have accepted Augustin Lazar’s candidacy file because it was not complete.
Asked at the Superior Council of Magistracy (CSM) headquarters about the fact that Augustin Lazar claimed the Minister Justice pulled a manipulation attempt when he referred to the prosecutor general’s candidacy file, Toader said: “I would prefer not to comment, for Mr. Lazar should have said if the affirmations were correct or not, instead. I mean, we are risking to draw the wrong conclusions before seeing if what he said was actually true or not and I will give you another example: March 15, 12.22 am -2016. In the context in which the law says clearly which are the pieces that must be included in the file, the Ministry only received through email a letter of intent and a CV, while the deadline expired on March 16 – it is all written – and the file was incomplete, I for one, if I were Minister back then, I wouldn’t have accepted him in the contest for the appointment as prosecutor general as long as his file was not complete.”
PG Lazar: A manipulation of the public opinion
Romania’s Prosector General Augustin Lazar stated on Thursday that Justice Minister’s statement regarding the discovery of a fraud in his candidacy file for this office proved to be “a manipulation of the public opinion” and announced that he reserves his right to take action according to the legal procedures in force.
“The statement regarding the alleged fraud, after two and a half years, in the appointment process of the prosecutor general turned out to be totally lacking support of evidence and, more than that, it proved to be a manipulation of the public opinion, a manipulation and an unjustified suspense regarding a statement that was made in an interested manner, in order to serve a visibly vitiated dismissal procedure. I would like to tell you that at a mere reading of the Superior Council of Magistracy [CSM] decision of 21 April 2016, we will be able to see that the Prosecutors’ Section meticulously checked each of the legal conditions that were imposed on the candidates, namely minimum 10 years seniority, the lack of sanctions over the last 3 years – and please note that only for the lack of sanctions the three-year term was required – and it was still necessary the condition of a very good mark at the last assessment. Therefore, the Superior Council of Magistracy, which is the guarantor of the independence of justice, established that all the legal conditions for the candidates were met. The rest is politics and I reserve the right to act according to the legal procedures in force,” PG Augustin Lazar stated upon entering the CSM headquarters.
Reactions to the polemics between the Justice Minister and Prosecutor General over Augustin Lazar’s candidacy file
Iordache distances himself from Toader after confusion of names in Lazar case: Who launched it should fix it
House Deputy Speaker Florin Iordache (PSD) stated on Thursday for MEDIAFAX, referring to the fact that the resolution to dismiss a case that concerned Klaus Iohannis was not signed by Augustin Lazar, as the Justice Minister had claimed, that “who launched it should fix it.”
“He should fix it. Who did that should fix it. They launched it, who launched it should fix it. I’ve seen that in fact it isn’t that guy and it is that guy, and why did we get here, I don’t know why we got here. I have no other comments. Who did it should fix it,” House lawmaker Florin Iordache (PSD) stated when asked for his comments on the current situation concerning Augustin Lazar’s candidacy dossier for the office of Prosecutor General.
Nicolae: Dismissal might as well have been signed by Negulescu too. The important thing is that it concerned Iohannis
PSD’s Senate whip Serban Nicolae stated on Thursday, for MEDIAFAX, that it does not matter whether Augustin Lazar signed or did not sign the dismissal ordinance included in the candidacy dossier, the important thing being that it was a case concerning Klaus Iohanis and it appeared in a candidacy dossier.
“At first sight, everything seems an aberration. In fact, it was behaviour typical of promotions to high-level offices within the Public Ministry based on arrangements made by people in the know. It doesn’t even matter whether the dismissal ordinance was signed by Lazar Augustin, the candidate for the office of Prosecutor General, or by a different prosecutor, because, if you ask me, I would be tempted to believe that Lazar phoned from Alba Iulia and asked the Prosecutor General’s Office, where he had worked as prosecutor on secondment several years before, to have certain cases taken out from among his older cases. I don’t believe he didn’t know who signed the resolution in a dossier that had passed through the Prosecutor’s Office attached to the Alba Iulia Court of Appeals too. The point was that the dismissal ordinance concerned Iohannis. It might as well have been signed by prosecutor Negulescu from Ploiesti, the important thing was that it concerned Iohannis and it appeared in a candidacy dossier,” PSD’s Senate whip Serban Nicolae stated on Thursday for MEDIAFAX.
The Social Democrat added that he does not believe the fairness of appointing Augustin Lazar as Prosecutor General. “If you ask me, I believe it wasn’t very important either, it might as well have contained a collection of ‘Romania Libera’ articles from 1950, because the decision had already been taken and it was only an appearance of legality, the necessary undertakings stipulated by the procedure were being made strictly formally, so that a resume, a statement of acceptance of candidacy, a managerial plan in which anything could have been written would exist, because in fact the decision had already been taken and someone else had already decided. I don’t believe for one second that it was a fair procedure and that Lazar proved to be the best for this office,” Nicolae pointed out.
The Senator added that Lazar is “a disgrace” and he should not have ended up at the helm of the Public Ministry.
“Once he took office it was proven that he had a completely embarrassing behaviour, featuring absolutely aberrant statements, not knowing basic professional elements. I still don’t believe Mr Lazar doesn’t know that prosecutors defend the general interest of society, the fundamental rights and freedoms of the citizens, because that’s what the Constitution says when it comes to the Public Ministry. He believes he is in the service of his own institution, that prosecutors serve their own interests, that they are a kind of union of a caste and that’s how they behave. I’ve heard Mr Lazar say that the European practice is also for prosecutors and the leaders within the prosecutor’s offices, the Public Ministry, to have the right and duty to signal stuff. Prosecutors don’t have rights and duties, they have prerogatives, he should have known after 36 years on the job. Lazar shouldn’t have been Prosecutor General of Romania for one second, because he is a disgrace,” Serban Nicolae stated.
Basescu: Professor, it’s grave, you mixed-up the Lazars. Only two solutions left – public apology and admission of error, or resignation
Ex-President Traian Basescu had a message for Justice Minister Tudorel Toader, telling him that “it’s grave” because he mixed-up the Lazars and that there are only two solutions: public apology and admission of error, or resignation, and that the dismissal of the Prosecutor General is now out of the question.
“Tudorel Toader! Professor, it’s grave, man. You mixed-up the Lazars. You scuttled your own report on the dismissal of the Prosecutor General,” Basescu wrote on Facebook.
Traian Basescu claims that “for the hullaballoo caused only two solutions are left: either public apology and admission of error, or resignation.”
The ex-President points out that “Augustin Lazar’s dismissal from office is now out of the question,” and “middle school teacher Iohannis will use the report as a bludgeon to hit the head of rector, university professor, Ph.D. and venetian Tudorel Toader until he demotes him to the rank of teacher on probation.”
Cristian Lazar appointed at Prosecutor General’s Office by Klaus Iohannis one year after he signed ordinance to dismiss case opened on Head of State’s name back when he was Mayor of Sibiu
On 15 December 2015, President Klaus Iohannis signed the decree appointing Cristian Aurel Lazar as Deputy Chief Prosecutor of the Section for Criminal Prosecution and Criminology of the Prosecutor General’s Office. On 14 September 2014, prosecutor Cristian Aurel Lazar dismissed a case concerning the Head of State.
On 15 December 2015, President Klaus Iohannis signed several decrees, including the one appointing Cristian Aurel Lazar as Deputy Chief Prosecutor of the Section for Criminal Prosecution and Criminology of the Prosecutor’s Office attached to the High Court of Cassation and Justice (PICCJ), for a three-year mandate.
“15 December 2015
Romanian President Klaus Iohannis signed on Tuesday, December 15, the following decrees:
Decree appointing Mr Aurel Cristian Lazar as Deputy Chief Prosecutor of the Section for Criminal Prosecution and Criminology of the Prosecutor’s Office attached to the High Court of Cassation and Justice, for a period of three years,” reads the press release posted on the Presidential Administration’s website.
The decision came against the backdrop in which, in September 2014, one month before the presidential elections, Cristian Aurel Lazar had dismissed a case concerning Klaus Iohannis.
“Via a criminal complaint, initially lodged with the National Anticorruption Directorate, where it was registered under no.5630/19.06.2013, complainant […], domiciled in […], asked that Sibiu Mayor Klaus Werner Iohannis be held criminally liable for perpetration of conflict of interest, abuse of office against public interests, and abuse of office against personal interests,” reads the dismissal resolution signed by prosecutor Cristian Lazar on 18 September 2014, according to luju.ro.
A copy of the dismissal ordinance was also sent to Klaus Iohannis, in line with the law, the same dismissal ordinance shows.