The Senate’s Judiciary Committee decided on Wednesday to send a report to the Standing Bureau for the approval of the commencement of criminal prosecution in the case of Senate Chairman Calin Popescu-Tariceanu. The proposal will be put up for a plenary vote, according to the committee’s chairman, Robert Cazanciuc.
“I put up for a vote the criminal prosecution of the Senate chairman as a result of a request from the National Anti-Corruption Directorate (DNA). We have a neutral vote, three for, two abstentions and one against. That means we, the Judiciary Committee, will suggest to the plenary session of the Senate the criminal prosecution of Mr Tariceanu. The plenary session will decide accordingly,” Cazanciuc said.
He added that the decider of action is the plenum of the Senate and not the Judiciary Committee or the Standing Bureau, where the report of the Judiciary Committee will be submitted first.
“Based on the report of the Judiciary Committee, which will contain the arguments of the Prosecutor’s Office, the defence recorded at the hearings and the documents filed as part of the proceedings before the Judiciary Committe, based on all of that we will draw up a report to the Standing Bureau, which will be sent to the Senate plenum. Our proposal will be in favour of the criminal prosecution,” said Cazanciuc.
Cazanciuc also explained why the report will be filed earlier, after Tuesday the Standing Bureau issued a two-week term.
“We have a deadline of two weeks set yesterday by the Standing Bureau for filing the report; it will probably be earlier. There were two pleadings and several papers were filed by the lawyer. During the hearings and later, I think two or three times, documents were filed in defense,” said Cazanciuc.
Since December 2018, the Standing Bureau of the Senate has decided on several occasions to extend the deadline for drafting a report on the DNA request to allow senators to study the case.
The Senate’s Standing Bureau set April 2 as the final deadline for the Judiciary Committee to come up with the report, but several committee meetings were suspended due to a lack of quorum.
Tariceanu said on April 4 that he asked the senators in the Judiciary Committee to fast-track the drafting of the opinion regarding the request of the DNA to start criminal prosecution in his case, mentioning that he is willing at any moment to present his point of view to the plenum.
On April 16, the solution of a representative of the General Prosecutor’s Office being invited to the Judiciary Committee of the Senate was advanced by the Social Democratic senators in relation to the Calin Popescu-Tariceanu’s case. No decision was made in this regard.
On November 7, 2018, the National Anti-Corruption Directorate requested the Senate to authorise the commencement of criminal prosecution of Calin Popescu-Tariceanu. Prosecutors argue that in 2007-2008, during the time he was prime minister, he indirectly received 800,000 US dollars’ worth of material gains from an Austrian firm.
Serban Nicolae says he is sure that the PSD senators will not support the withdrawal of immunity in Tariceanu’s case
PSD Senator Serban Nicolae stated on Wednesday that he doesn’t think that PSD will vote for the withdrawal of Calin Popescu Tariceanu’s immunity. He said that the decision belongs to the plenum of the Senate, and the Legal Committee shouldn’t issue a vote in this context, but only to find that the legal requirements are met.
“I don’t think that there is any Social Democrat, any of my colleagues in the group whose leader I still am, has changed its opinion and reached the conclusion that we must embrace the forms of abuse that paralyzed Romanian for so long”, Serban Nicolae stated after discussing with Calin Popescu Tariceanu.
The leader of the group of the PSD senators said that the plenum of the Senate will decide if the immunity will be withdrawn, in order to start criminal prosecution against Calin Popescu Tariceanu.
“It was a confusing thing. It’s not normal for the member of the Legal Committee to vote twice, once in the committee and once in the plenary session, on an issue related to the criminal procedure. It’s not normal. It’s like a judge once was part of a panel, and he is also part of another panel on the same case. At this level, the Legal Committee shouldn’t do anything else than checking the procedural requirements, a notification should be submitted by the General Prosecutor, the person should be a member of the Government, a senator in the exercise of his or her term. In my opinion, we have nothing to vote for. It was only a finding, since the decision belongs to the plenum”, Serban Nicolae stated, when asked why there are Social Democrats who left the room in which the Legal Committee was gathered, before the voting.
On Wednesday, Serban Nicolae discussed with Calin Popescu Tariceanu in his office at the Senate, after the voting in the Legal Committee.