The Romanian Government assumes the letter sent by Justice Minister Tudorel Toader to the Financial Times, Deputy Prime Minister Daniel Suciu on Thursday told a press conference at the ruling Social Democratic Party (PSD) seat in the western city of Arad, adding that (the letter, ed. n.) “accurately reflects the reality of the judiciary in Romania, it is a mirror of what has happened in the past years.”
“Mr. Minister Tudorel Toader’s letter (…) is assumed by Romania’s Government, all the information is true and I totally agree with everything mentioned in it. After all, I think that absolutely everybody should know what has happened, not just one side or the other. I haven’t seen other people outraged when there was a magistrates’ tracking special section with DNA [the National Anti-corruption Directorate, ed.n.] and this section produced over 3,200 files on prosecutors and justices. You tell me if this tool dubbed special section with DNA cannot become a form of pressure and blackmail of certain magistrates,” Daniel Suciu stressed.
When asked whether he was personally consulted before the letter was sent, the Deputy Premier emphasised: “It is a document assumed by the Government of Romania, I believe I’ve made my point.”
Asked whether he knew about a probable payment to the Financial Times for the publication of Minister Toader’s letter, Suciu replied that he knows nothing of a paid article, that he only knew a letter was sent to be published.
Under the title ‘The coercion in Romanian anti-corruption campaign,’ Tudorel Toader presents in the Financial Times the reasons why he believes the former head of the DNA is not suitable for the office of Chief European Prosecutor. Toader’s letter is presented as a reply to a Financial Times editorial published on February 28, titled ‘The right woman to be Europe’s chief prosecutor,’ which claimed that the EU must not give in to Romania’s request and must appoint Kovesi in office.
“I have nothing personal against Laura Codruta Kovesi, one of the three candidates for the office of Chief Prosecutor of the newly-created European Public Prosecutor’s Office. But, based on all evidence we have seen – from judges, prosecutors and other credible sources – she should not be appointed to this position of vital importance,” Toader writes.
He says that Kovesi’s dismissal from office was not prompted by the fact that the DNA was targeting corrupt politicians but because the DNA was breaking the law, as also indicated by the Constitutional Court.
“Mrs Kovesi’s investigative strategy was based on coercion. After Mrs Kovesi left the DNA, we have discovered that, for four years, while she was in office, investigations were opened against 3,420 judges and prosecutors – almost half of the total number. These investigations were opened, but the dossiers never made it to court. They were used to coerce the judicial system,” the Justice Minister claims.
He argues that the Section for Investigating Magistrates has taken over 1,422 dossiers, around 70 percent of them being prosecutions ex officio, not the results of complaints or suspicions. Toader claims that most of these dossiers were still open after two years or more, and were opened in response to decisions issued against the DNA’s will.
Toader also invokes the reaction of National Union of Romanian Judges (UNJR) President Dana Garbovan, who said that this information is “shocking.” He adds that, when the opening of dossiers was not enough, interdictions were imposed so that those targeted would be suspended from office and thus removed from the dossiers in which the DNA had an interest.
“In the dossiers from the DNA, judges have discovered modified minutes and recordings, forged evidence, false denunciations and evidence deliberately hidden. This is not justice. The European Public Prosecutor’s Office should insistently look for the culprits, but not by sacrificing the observance of human rights and normal procedures,” Tudorel Toader writes.
Toader’s letter was published on the day Kovesi was subpoenaed by the Section for Investigating Magistrates and the European Parliament was deciding on the next steps in the procedure to appoint the Chief European Prosecutor.
DNA sends letter to Financial Times, rectifying “some false information” conveyed by Tudorel Toader
DNA representatives have sent a letter to the Financial Times, rectifying “some false information” conveyed by Justice Minister Tudorel Toader in his letter to the publication, such as the number of dossiers that the newly-established Section for Investigating Magistrates took over from the DNA, and the number of probes that were started against magistrates during Laura Codruta Kovesi’s term in office.
“Considering that the data on which the Justice Minister’s argumentation is based is not real, which is liable to affect the truth of the conclusion of the statements regarding the activity of the DNA, in order to properly inform public opinion, we hereby present the real data resulting from official statistics, regarding the investigations concerning magistrates, most of these investigations being opened as a result of complaints/denunciations received from persons dissatisfied with the solutions ordered in civil or criminal cases in which the said persons were involved. For instance, in order to back the claim that the DNA allegedly put pressure on the magistrates trying criminal cases, the minister mentions that the newly-formed Section for Magistrates – the Section for Investigating Magistrates – has taken over 1,422 dossiers from the DNA, and almost 70 percent of them were opened as prosecutions ex officio, not as the result of any complaints or denunciations,” the DNA points out.
In fact, when it started its activity, the Section took over from the DNA 275 pending dossiers, 34 of which were opened ex officio, namely 12 percent of them, the DNA representatives point out.
“This figure – 275 dossiers – is mentioned in the DNA’s 2018 Activity Report, which was officially sent to the minister in February 2019, and was published at the time of the presentation of the report, being also included in the press release dated 22 February 2019,” the DNA points out.
Another example concerns the Justice Minister’s statement that the DNA opened probes against 3,420 judges and prosecutors during Laura Kovesi’s term in office, namely against more than half of the total number of Romanian magistrates.
“In fact, the total number of investigations concerning magistrates, registered at the DNA from 01.01.2014 to 30.07.2018 (4 years and 7 months), was 2,396. Of that, 1,922 dossiers were closed during the same period, because it was discovered that the notifications were groundless. Of these cases, only 10.4 percent were prosecutions ex officio. Consequently, it follows that most dossiers were opened as result of notifications lodged by natural or legal persons. Moreover, 521 notifications do not contain the name of the magistrate or institution whose member they are,” the DNA points out, adding that this data was also made public and can be found on the institution’s website.
Romanian legislation stipulates the prosecutor’s offices’ obligation to register, as criminal dossier, any notification (complaint, denunciation) received that meets the formal requirements, the DNA representatives add.
Opposition believes Toader embarrassed himself by sending anti-Kovesi letter to foreign publication
Referring to the letter in which Justice Minister Tudorel Toader points out that Laura Codruta Kovesi should not be appointed Chief European Prosecutor, USR President Dan Barna stated on Thursday that this proves “that you are never too old to find a new way of embarrassing yourself.”
“I would like to start with one of Murphy’s laws, which says you are never too old to find a new way of embarrassing yourself. What Tudorel Toader is doing with this letter is yet another way for him to embarrass himself – and especially us, as Government of Romania – at international level. Objectively, what the whole of Europe and the world sees, we are talking about the American partner too, is that Romania is currently led by some individuals, some of them criminally convicted, some of them in various stages of criminal investigation, and Tudorel Toader is perceived as the lawyer of these criminally convicted persons,” Dan Barna stated on Thursday for RFI.
“I don’t know whether it’s wrong or not, it’s not my role to judge this, because, let’s not forget, the DNA’s entire activity ends up in court, and in court we have seen that the DNA is one of the institutions with a very good convictions-to-acquittals ratio,” Barna said when asked whether Kovesi was wrong to turn a blind eye to the abuses committed by the National Anticorruption Directorate.
Gov’t didn’t pledge to support for EU Chief Prosecutor someone standing under shadow of alleged crimes
The government did not pledge to support the bid for the position of EU Chief Prosecutor of a person who stands under the shadow of alleged crimes, government sources said on Thursday.
According to the cited sources, the reasons are not personally related to Laura Codruta Kovesi, who is running for European Chief Prosecutor, but to public information emerged about the former head of the National Anticorruption Directorate.
The Victoria Palace sources also said that, as Romania, in its capacity as President of the Council of the European Union, is required to act as an impartial mediator and one of the candidates is Romanian, the selection process for this position was led by Finland, the country that will take over at the EU helm from Romania.