The Prosecution Section of the Superior Council of Magistrates (CSM) on Monday issued a negative opinion on the proposal made by Justice Minister Tudorel Toader to remove Prosecutor General Augustin Lazar from office.
“At the meeting on November 19, 2018, the Prosecution Section of the Supreme Council of Magistrates, by a majority, issued a negative opinion on the request of the minister of justice regarding the removal from office of Prosecutor General Augustin Lazar. The decision of the Prosecution Section will be motivated and forwarded to the Ministry of Justice (MJ) ,” CSM said in a statement.
According to judicial sources, the decision was made five to one. The CSM opinion is an advisory one.
The minister of justice left the CSM offices before the outcome of the vote was announced.
Asked by journalists how he voted, Toader said: “The way I thought … (…) In line with the report, it is now predictable, I made the report at the ministry with all my conviction.”
On October 24, Toader announced the start of the procedure for removing Lazar.
He then listed 20 points on the job of the attorney general, including: serious behavioural and public communication problems; serious management issues; lack of efficient organisation and accountability; eminently political speeches and accusations against state authorities; challenging the Constitutional Court’s rulings; failure to fulfil the obligations taken up under his management project through widespread use of delegation in management positions; levelling criticism against Parliament and government; the conduct of the investigation into gendarmes’ intervention in the August 10 street protest; violating the law by signing protocols with the Romanian Intelligence Service (SRI).
Toader also said that the candidacy file submitted by Lazar in 2016 was not complete because the last assessment of his professional activity was missing.
He added that Lazar’s candidacy file contained an ordinance for the closure of a trial involving President Klaus Iohannis. Later, it was discovered that this ordinance was not drawn up by Lazar, but by another prosecutor by the same name, Cristian Lazar.
Under the law, the minister of justice may request the removal from office of the head of the Prosecutor’s Office with the Supreme Court of Justice and Cassation, the Prosecution Section of the CSM issues an advisory opinion, while the final decision is made by the president.
JusMin Toader makes his case for removing PG Augustin Lazar from office
Minister of Justice Tudorel Toader presented on Monday at the CSM Prosecutors’ Section the reasons for his requesting Augustin Lazar’s removal from the office of Prosecutor General.
He reproached Prosecutor General Augustin Lazar for being on trips abroad in various key moments and accused him of putting the recently established Magistrates’ Investigation Section of the General Prosecution Office out of gears.
“In key moments the Prosecutor General was either in China, in South Africa or elsewhere. I defy you to hear me out as I prove that you actually enjoy the position and it’s probably natural, but at the same time you have delegated much of your job responsibilities, without exercising them. You said that you have a deputy in charge. Your activity plans do not include approvals for national security warrants of which I don’t know if you signed any throughout this period, you just left somebody else to do it. You probably signed yourself only as an exception,” Toader said during the meeting.
The JusMin also blamed the PG for opposing the establishment of the Magistrates’ Investigation Section right from the start, and for hindering now its activity.
“You vehemently challenged the establishment of the special Section. The Constitutional Court said it was a matter of timeliness, and it was of no consequence if those who investigate or verify the complaints against prosecutors are under the umbrella of the National Anti-corruption Directorate or of the Public Prosecutor’s Office. You vehemently stood against this ruling, although the Constitutional Court said this was the legislator’s job. ‘I, as Prosecutor General, do not agree to this.’ But do you have legislator competencies? Investigation Section personnel complain having no basic services like fax, phone, clerks, they lack the basics for carrying out their activity. We will check this and if it is true, it means that you are throwing obstacles to their activity,” Toader said.
Augustin Lazar: Toader’s report, a collage of public disparagements that have a common denominator: the handling of the 10 August 2018 dossier
Prosecutor General Augustin Lazar stated on Monday, at the Superior Council of the Magistracy (CSM), that the Justice Minister’s report on his dismissal from office is “a collage of public disparagements that have a common denominator: the handling of the 10 August 2018 ordinance.”
“We are witnessing an essay that is not juridical, it’s a collage of public disparagements of the Prosecutor General. (…) Public disparagements that all have a common denominator that you will find in this document called evaluation report, and which is called the handling of the 10 August 2018 dossier,” Augustin Lazar stated before the members of the Superior Council of the Magistracy’s Section for Prosecutors, before this body issued an opinion on his dismissal from office.
The Prosecutor General said that the invoking of this dossier in the evaluation report represents interference on the part of the Justice Minister.
“One of the reasons for which the dismissal procedure was triggered was the handling of the investigation into the way the gendarmes intervened during the August 10 protests. It can be easily deduced that the invoking of this reason for dismissal represents in fact interference in the concrete activity of handling a criminal case. The minister told me that in a case in which the Constitutional Court deemed that there is a conflict of a juridical nature between the DNA, a Public Ministry directorate, the Prosecutor General should have immediately resigned instead of making sure that similar cases would not occur in the future. What should the Justice Minister have done, we wonder, after he exhibited such impermissible interference that it was cited not only in the law but also in Decision no.358/2018 of the CCR; the minister has no judiciary prerogatives to behave as a court of judicial oversight. What did the minister do: that’s what he wanted to see, whether I concretely took over the dossier and whether we are handling it correctly,” Augustin Lazar added.
The Prosecutor General also told the members of the CSM that the Judicial Inspection’s audit did not find “any dysfunctions” in the activity of the Public Ministry.
“It did not reveal any problem until things heated up with the August 10 dossier,” Lazar went on to point out.