On Monday, the Prosecutor’s Office attached to the High Court of Cassation and Justice (PICCJ) opened a criminal file after recordings of the DNA Chief Prosecutor were leaked to the press, PICCJ representatives told News.ro. In fact, the DNA announced, on the same day, that it notified the Prosecutor General of the Prosecutor’s Office attached to the High Court of Cassation and Justice, in order for them to opine on the necessity of taking notice, ex officio.
According to PICCJ representatives, a criminal file was opened for the offence of “misleading judiciary bodies,” offence stipulated by Article 268, Paragraph 2, of the Criminal Code, which states that “manufacturing or devising unreal evidence, with the purpose of proving the existence of an offence stipulated by criminal law or its committal by a certain person, is punishable by a sentence of 1 to 5 years in jail.”
Audio recordings of Kovesi during meeting with prosecutors: “For past five weeks, nobody indicted anyone at the DNA. We are sitting on dossiers and doing nothing; who got scared should leave”
Several audio recordings of National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA) Chief Prosecutor Laura Codruta Kovesi were broadcast by RomaniaTV private broadcaster on Sunday evening. In them, Kovesi is heard reproaching prosecutors with not doing their job, with the fact that “for the past five weeks nobody indicted anyone at the DNA,” and saying that whoever is scared or does not feel like working should leave. She stated, among other things, that she “wants the dossier concerning the houses to lead to the Premier,” and also referred to the dossier concerning Government Emergency Ordinance (OUG) no.13. Likewise, Kovesi is also heard stating that, following the Constitutional Court of Romania’s (CCR) ruling on the DNA’s probe into the OUG no.13 case, she would have liked the DNA to come up “with a dossier, with a minister” or at least with an important dossier.
“I don’t know how you see things, this is the third time I’m telling you, I told you at Cheile Gradistei too, I’m telling you now too, if we are not doing our job in these dossiers, we should at least know. From now on, I’ll stay here, I’ll transfer the whole work. There are some (…) who seem to be doing nothing, I’ve seen nothing. Not to mention there are dossiers, I don’t want to give examples, there are several, 7 or 9… the press asks me every week [about them], so much so that I’ve grown tired of them and nothing is happening. Tell me what’s happening, so that I’d know, because we’ll end up talking every week, I’ll ask you today, because only some people, the same people, are working. Nobody can convince me that out of 8,000 new dossiers we were unable to indict one defendant in a month’s time, we were unable to send to court a defendant in the 8,000 dossiers. If you, the ones here in this room, manage to convince me, I’ll leave and no longer say anything. Some people, the same people, get sworn at from dawn to dusk, while others stay under our little umbrella. Never mind, the boss can handle it, Uncheselu can handle it, Dumitru can handle it, so-and-so can handle it. And they lie and it’s quiet, it’s nice at the DNA, is it not? High salaries, nobody is keeping tabs when we come [to office], when we leave, we sit on the dossiers, nobody asks us about them. (…) Why hasn’t anything happened for a month and a half, what do you need? Maybe you’ll think about forming some priorities and I want to see at this section that there are at least three persons indicted a month. [Take] any prosecutor’s office in Romania, I’ll show you they indict three dossiers while we, the DNA, only sit idly. For the past five weeks, nobody indicted anyone at the DNA, I can’t believe this. If you don’t want to, tell us; if you can’t, tell us. But give us a report,” reads part of the transcript of the recordings.
Kovesi also tells prosecutors that the point has been reached in which “those who support us are wondering what we are doing – did we get scared or what? For five weeks, nobody indicted anybody at the DNA; who doesn’t feel like working should leave. 10 people will be left at the DNA, but they will mind their work and fight to the end.”
She also referred to the dossier concerning OUG no.13: “I took responsibility for this dossier, along with Mr Surugiu and Mr Uncheselu. They didn’t turn one millimeter to the left or to the right without me saying ‘yes, I agree and I endorse this,’ and I continue to believe we did what was legal and correct. Even if the Constitutional Court should say we committed institutional backsliding for it, I’ll take the four dossiers that exist at the DNA, having the same object, drafted in exactly the same way, and I’ll put them in Morar’s arms and tell him ‘do whatever you like with them, Mr Morar.’ We’re signing justifying reports for the [Judicial] Inspection and the Justice Ministry, everyone is swearing at us from dawn to dusk, and I undertook this because I thought we were doing some things, but others are sitting on the dossiers, doing nothing,” Kovesi told prosecutors.
“Udrea is the latest one, convicted 6 years for abuse. I know the Court’s ruling has defeated us, but you should see how the exception invoked by Bombonica will defeat us, but until that happens we must do our job,” the DNA Chief Prosecutor added, referring to the constitutionality challenged lodged against the abuse of office offence by Bombonica Prodana, Liviu Dragnea’s ex-wife.
In another recording, Laura Codruta Kovesi is heard saying: “We have 50 dossiers per prosecutor and we can’t come up with a dossier. We must do our job. (…) After the CCR decision I would like us to come up with a dossier [involving] a minister, to put pressure, at least in an important dossier. We are afraid that the CCR said we backslid. Others are making a mockery of our work, should we only sit and take it. It’s not for nothing that I keep saying it’s important to go out there. (…) If they feel we no longer have courage, they’ll jump all over us. (…) 3 or 4 important dossiers. Early this year we took a hit when it came to OUG 13 too, and the people defended us.”
In a first audio recording broadcast by RomaniaTV on Sunday evening, DNA Chief Prosecutor Laura Codruta Kovesi is allegedly heard telling prosecutor Jean Uncheselu that she wants his probe “to lead more rapidly to the Premier, who signed the contracts concerning the houses.”
“Uncheselu (prosecutor Jean-Nicolae Uncheselu, who indicted Victor Ponta in the Turceni-Rovinari case – editor’s note), you know what I want? I want you to institutionally strip that dossier concerning the houses and for us to reach the Premier who signed those contracts. (…) We had a talk at Cheile Gradistei and I still haven’t heard what happened. Maybe now, that we are all here, we’ll clarify what happened. I looked over the statistics and I did a… (…) During the same period last year, at the DNA there were 673 people indicted [compared] to 270 [this year]. It’s a very large discrepancy. We have extra personnel, we have extra policemen, we have extra specialists, we have dossiers. It means there are other causes and I wanted us to talk a bit and see. I looked at these situations. There are some worrisome matters. There are dossiers that are 6-7 years old, in which the criminal prosecution started, unsolved. They arrived to the same prosecutors and someone else or another dossier arrived. The criminal prosecution started. Each of you knows what you have on the docket. But something else worries me, that when it comes to old dossiers, you each know what you have. What worries me is… why don’t we grab them! For two months, some of them are free, no indictment comes out. Only some people and the same people are making dossiers. We’re not doing our job with three indictments,” the DNA Chief Prosecutor is heard saying in the audio recording broadcast by RomaniaTV.
Toader: I’ll notify the Judicial Inspection
On Sunday evening, shortly after the recordings were broadcast, Justice Minister Tudorel Toader announced on Facebook that on Monday morning he will notify the Judicial Inspection about the statements that appeared in the public space regarding DNA Chief Prosecutor Laura Codruta Kovesi’s demand for the probe “to lead to Premier Sorin Grindeanu.”
DNA Spokesperson: Terms not used by the DNA Chief were inserted in the recordings, in order to distort their content
DNA Spokesperson Livia Saplacan stated that the recording, in which DNA Chief Prosecutor Laura Codruta Kovesi can be heard ordering her subordinates to make sure the probe leads to the Premier, contains a fragment in which terms meant to distort the content of the things said were inserted.
“The recording contains fragments that the Chief Prosecutor said publicly or at working meetings with the prosecutors of an operative section. Inserted among those fragments were a series of terms that do not belong to her and that are meant to gravely distort the content of the things said,” the DNA Spokesperson said.
Alina Petrescu: I dismiss any attempt to have Grindeanu’s name linked to this dossier
Government Spokesperson Alina Petrescu stated on Sunday evening, after Romania TV broadcast the audio recordings in which the DNA Chief Prosecutor is heard telling prosecutor Jean Uncheselu she wants the probe “to lead to the Premier as fast as possible”, that during the time Sorin Grindeanu was Timisoara Deputy Mayor he was in charge of the Technical Directorate, having prerogatives in the field of infrastructure, energy and public transport, the Assets Directorate – which the DNA dossier concerns – not being subordinated to him.
“First of all, we are not directly commenting on the recording, we don’t know whether it is authentic or not. I just want to dismiss any attempt to link Premier Grindeanu’s name to this dossier. During the time he was deputy mayor, Sorin Grindeanu was in charge of the Technical Directorate, having prerogatives in the fields of infrastructure, energy and public transport. The Assets Directorate was not subordinated to Mr Grindeanu,” Alina Petrescu stated for News.ro.
Basescu: Politicians are targets for Kovesi. She should be handcuffed and sent to jail, where she sent innocent people
Ex-President Traian Basescu stated on Sunday evening, for RomaniaTV, that politicians are targets for DNA Chief Prosecutor Laura Codruta Kovesi, and that she should be “handcuffed” and “sent to jail, where she sent so many innocent people.”
“This recording confirms one thing, namely that politicians are targets for Ms Kovesi. I saw the statement ‘let’s bring down the Prime Minister,’ they were talking about Grindeanu, I saw the statement according to which she needs 3-4 ministers, because these are the resounding [dossiers], I saw the statement ‘let’s come up with something’ and ‘come up with Udrea, Ioana Basescu.’ (…) So, these are the controlled channels that execute politicians. (…) OUG 13 is not the only dossier in which Ms Kovesi got directly involved, in order to control and approve everything needed for the target to be reached. There are other dossiers too, I for one know at least another one. (…) This woman should be arrested on the spot. She should be handcuffed, sent to jail, where she sent to many innocent people, and then the prosecutors that were forced to draft dossiers should come as witnesses. Dozens of important politicians stood in jail, because the madam needed to come up with resounding dossiers,” Traian Basescu stated.
He added that he “deceived” himself when he appointed Laura Codruta Kovesi at the helm of the DNA and that the “drama” is that President Klaus Iohannis has extended her term.
Traian Basescu added that the DNA Chief Prosecutor “is sacrificing destinies for her own glory” and that inside the DNA there are prosecutors who are starting to mutiny and who “are sick and tired of drafting dossiers under orders.”
Minister Toader: My obligation is to clarify the recent public controversies
Justice Minister Tudorel Toader announced, on Monday morning, that he notified the Judicial Inspection after recordings of DNA Chief Prosecutor Laura Codruta Kovesi were leaked. Likewise, the Judicial Inspection announced it took notice ex officio.
“The Justice Ministry was notified, took notice ex officio, about the recent statements, public controversies. My obligation is to clarify these statements and so then I notified the Judicial Inspection. Within the limits of the competencies that it has, the Judicial Inspection will carry out rigorous verifications, and if it notes that certain verifications exceed its competencies, of course other authorities will get involved, for instance in carrying out a technical evaluation. We will see the first results that will come from the Judicial Inspection,” Tudorel Toader stated at the Justice Ministry headquarters.
Judicial Inspection took notice ex officio
In his turn, Judicial Inspection Spokesperson Alexandru Bogdan stated on Monday, for News.ro, that the institution took notice ex officio, after RomaniaTV broadcast the recordings, preliminary verifications being carried out “to establish the existence of a potential infraction of discipline.”
“Up to this hour, Tudorel Toader’s notification concerning the same topic hasn’t reached the Judicial Inspection,” Alexandru Bogdan pointed out on Monday morning.
Victor Ponta: Things some of us knew, that certain dossiers are made for political purposes, are surfacing
Government Secretary General Victor Ponta stated on Sunday evening that the leaked recordings, in which DNA Chief Prosecutor Laura Codruta Kovesi apparently orders her subordinates to make sure the probe “leads to the Premier”, are bringing to the surface the fact that certain criminal dossiers “are made for political purposes.”
In this context, Victor Ponta said that he too was “executed” by one of the prosecutors, namely by Jean Uncheselu, who, according to him, “zealously” carried out the order he had received.
“In my case, Mr Uncheselu carried out the order and framed me in that dossier. (…) I don’t know whether it (the recordings of the DNA Chief – editor’s note) concerns Grindeanu, but I indeed do know, and I’ll state this in court, that Uncheselu zealously carried out an order in what concerns me. (…) Things some of us knew are surfacing. I had an interest, since 2015, for the fact that Uncheselu drafted an illegal criminal dossier, under orders, to surface, but it did now,” Victor Ponta stated.
He added that “everyone wants to fight against corruption, everyone wants to see the corrupt caught and punished,” and so does he, but when the criminal dossiers “are made for political purposes” things must be set right.
According to him, President Iohannis and the Parliament, Justice Minister Tudorel Toader, the Supreme Magistracy Council (CSM) and Prosecutor General Augustin Lazar are the ones who can solve the problem.
Ponta added that the leaking of the recordings at this moment proves that Sorin Grindeanu is not “protected” by the system and added that “neither ‘Dragnea’s PSD’ nor ‘Grindeanu’s PSD’ could have made those recordings, which were probably the result of ‘infighting within the system.’”
Tariceanu: Recordings of DNA Chief show we’re dealing with the witch hunt of politicians. Iohannis should react
On Monday, Senate Speaker Calin Popescu Tariceanu launched an attack against DNA Chief Prosecutor Laura Codruta Kovesi, stating that she is engaged in the witch hunt of politicians in order to generate media impact and to amplify the unfavourable perception of Romania as a corrupt country.
“These recordings confirm a series of things I’ve been saying for over two years, namely that in Romania, in the field of the judiciary, there are grave abuses and backsliding from the law, that we are dealing with selective justice, with the witch hunt of political leaders, that the presumption of innocence is not in operation. I would like to underscore what seems to be the main objective of the chief of the DNA, namely the witch hunt of important political figures that would create media impact and would amplify the unfavourable perception of Romania, the perception of generalized corruption, and secondly [her] dissatisfaction that the number of cases sent to court has dropped,” Calin Popescu Tariceanu stated.
The ALDE President added that the Supreme Magistracy Council (CSM) and President Iohannis are mainly responsible for the situation created by Laura Codruta Kovesi, and that President Iohannis should react.
“The CSM undoubtedly plays the main role, having a responsibly it disregarded many times in the past, allowing these abuses to occur, even though I’m convinced they were aware of them. And there’s someone else who has very great responsibility: the one who appointed Ms Kovesi in this office. I believe the President, logically, should react to these grave things that are happening in the field of the judiciary and that are showing us, once more, what we see appearing ever more often in public: a parallel system of power in which Ms Kovesi held and holds an extremely important role, trampling on the essential principles of democracy,” Tariceanu added.
DNA: Recordings of Kovesi are not authentic. We notified Supreme Court’s Prosecutor’s Office and Judicial Inspection
The recordings of DNA Chief Prosecutor Laura Codruta Kovesi are not authentic but contain “a series of juxtaposed fragments meant to alter the real content of the statements” that Kovesi made in various circumstances, such as public meetings or working meetings with prosecutors from the operative sections, the DNA points out, adding that it has notified the Prosecutor General of the Prosecutor’s Office attached to the High Court of Cassation and Justice and the Judicial Inspection. Likewise, the DNA announced it also took notice, ex officio, of the committal of the offence of “using, in any manner, directly or indirectly, information that was not meant to be publicized, or allowing unauthorized persons to access this information.”
In a communiqué released on Monday, the National Anticorruption Directorate points out that the recordings “that contain alleged statements attributed to DNA Chief Prosecutor Laura Codruta Kovesi” are not authentic, containing a series of juxtaposed fragments meant to alter the real content of the statements that the DNA Chief Prosecutor made in various circumstances, such as public meetings or working meetings with prosecutors from operative sections.
The DNA claims that a series of terms that were not used by the DNA Chief Prosecutor were inserted among the fragments heard in the recordings, but also certain obscene expressions she never used and does not use.
The National Anticorruption Directorate gives the following examples of “obviously unreal” fragments: “Uncheselu, you know what I want? I want you to institutionally strip that dossier concerning the houses and for us to reach the Premier who signed those contracts”; “But something else worries me, that when it comes to old dossiers, you each know what you have. What worries me is… why don’t we grab them!”; “After the CCR decision I would have liked us to come up with a dossier involving a minister, because I’m nevertheless thinking we’re putting pressure. Or at least with some important dossiers”; “And the colleagues proved documents were filed within the legislative process and the Court came and… my goodness… It happens that (…) from Constanta.”
The DNA states that it consequently notified the Prosecutor General of the Prosecutor’s Office attached to the High Court of Cassation and Justice, in order for them to state their opinion on the need to take notice, ex officio, of the committal of the offence of misleading judicial bodies. “The notification was based on the fact that the recordings, which contain a mix of real fragments with terms obtained via collation, risk leading to the crediting of a false idea, namely that the Chief Prosecutor of the National Anticorruption Directorate is allegedly ordering prosecutors to investigate certain persons and to channel the investigations in a certain direction,” the aforementioned source points out.
Likewise, National Anticorruption Directorate prosecutors took notice, ex officio, of the committal of the offence of using, in any manner, directly or indirectly, information that was not meant for public use or of allowing unauthorized persons to access this information. “The notification was based on the fact that during the meetings with prosecutors from operative sections, matters pertaining to the internal management of these prosecutor’s office units were being discussed, circumstances that are not meant to be public,” the DNA argues.
National Anticorruption Directorate prosecutors also notified the Judicial Inspection, “expressing their conviction that verifications can be carried out by the Judicial Inspection, bearing in mind that the said compilation of recordings was made and used with the obvious purpose of creating a false perception of the way the National Anticorruption Directorate carries out its activity and with the purpose of weakening its capacity to carry out its legal prerogatives.”
According to the DNA, some of the recordings seem to have been made during two analysis meetings that took place on 30 March 2017, meetings in which prosecutors from two operative sections of the DNA’s Central Structure separately took part: the anti-corruption section and the section for combating crimes assimilated to corruption crimes. According to the two meeting minutes, the “timeliness of solving the cases, the rhythmicity of administering the evidence and the strict observance of criminal procedure norms” were discussed at these meetings in which the two deputy prosecutors of the National Anticorruption Directorate took part, alongside Laura Codruta Kovesi. At the same time, Kovesi asked the prosecutors holding leadership positions to monitor older dossiers and to regularly verify the rhythmicity of the criminal probes, the DNA adds, pointing out that these aspects have to do with the Chief Prosecutor’s natural and responsible exercise of its managerial prerogatives, as stipulated by the National Anticorruption Directorate’s Internal Regulations.
“The following were among the problems identified for the belated solving of some cases: the carrying out of special assessments and findings, a high volume of necessary criminal prosecution documents, the lack of responses to requests for international judiciary assistance, some persons avoiding criminal prosecution and the carrying out of formalities for their indictment in absentia, the high load of dossiers per prosecutor. In one of the sections, it was discovered that pending were 42 cases older than 4 years, 30 cases older than 5 years, 22 cases older than 6 years, 8 cases older than 7 years and 2 cases older than 8 years. Given this situation, on 31 March 2017, the Chief Prosecutor of the National Anticorruption Directorate ordered the evaluation of the activity carried out by the Anti-corruption Section and the Section for combating crimes assimilated to corruption crimes, in order to ascertain the reasons why cases older than 4 years were not solved during this time. The assessment was carried out by the DNA’s two Deputy Prosecutors, namely Marius Iacob and Nistor Calin, from April 28 to May 12. The results of the assessment and the possible measures needed are currently being analyzed,” the DNA adds.
The DNA also mentions some of the prerogatives of the Chief Prosecutor of the National Anticorruption Directorate, in line with the Internal Regulations: leads and coordinates the National Anticorruption Directorate’s entire activity, taking measures for its proper organizing and functioning; takes measures (…) for the works to be carried out on time and in observance of quality standards, and to establish work rapports that would ensure the proper carrying out of prerogatives; ensures and verifies the way that legal dispositions, orders and regulations are observed by the entire personnel; oversees the activity of the prosecutors and of the entire personnel, directly or through appointed prosecutors. The stipulations of the same Regulations force prosecutors to carry out the criminal prosecution, to take part in court hearings and to solve the works thoroughly and timely, to ensure the security of the criminal dossiers and of the other works, as well as their confidentiality.