Judges of the Romanian Constitutional Court (CCR) have ruled on Monday that amendments operated on the Criminal Codes (Criminal Code and the Criminal Procedure Code) are unconstitutional, practically admitting the constitutional challenges filed by the PNL and USR Opposition parties and by President Klaus Iohannis.
CCR has delayed the ruling on the criminal codes amendments seven times so far, three times only in the past there months.
Many of the amendments are controversial. An example is the provision reading that the prescription term is reduced and the elimination of the evidence obtained by the Romanian Intelligence Service (SRI) by warrants of national security for the common files. Another amendment referred to the repeal of the article on the dereliction of duty.
One of the files that could have been affected if the amendments came into force is the Tel Drum file, with much evidence that could be not taken into consideration.
The CCR decision comes amid public anger stirred by the tragic murder of two teen girls in Caracal.
The Criminal Code amendments could have also loosened the sentences in such cases as the Caracal murders, while civil servants who don’t carry out their office duties, such as the intervention in this case, might have got away with punishments.
The controversial amendments also stipulated the reduction of the prescription terms from 10 to 8 years in prison if the jail sentence were ranging from 10 to 20 years and from 8 years to 6 years for prison sentences from 5 to 10 years.
In Gheorghe Dincă’s case,the author of the Caracal murders, if the amendments were enforced the situation would have been devastating. If sentenced to less than 10 years in prison he might have been released after having served at least one third of the prison sentence. If he were to be sentenced to more than 10 years in prison, he might have been released on parole if he served at least half of the sentence.
President hails CCR ruling, slams PSD-ALDE
President Klaus Iohannis has hailed CCR ruling on Monday, slamming PSD-ALDE coalition for the amendments operated on the criminal laws and calling on the Parliament to reject all those amendments and to reverse the revisions already operated on the justice laws.
“The ruling pronounced by the Constitutional Court today is sactioning the legislative action of PSD-ALDE coalition for the second time. The ruling proves, one more time, that the amendments brought on the criminal laws by the ruling coalition are harmful and against the Fundamental Law”, Iohannis argued in a press release.
“I urge PSD-ALDE coalition to abandon the claimed justice reform. I also ask the Parliament to fully reject all the amendments operated on the criminal laws and to reverse the toxic changes already operated on the justice laws, which proved to be real attacks against the safety of the citizens,” the Romanian president added.
PNL: Bitter victory
Liberal leader Ludovic Orban considers the CCR ruling to declare the amendments to the Criminal Codes as unconstitutional is “a bitter victory after the PSD-ALDE coalition’s assault in the past years in the criminals’ favour“.
The PNL chairman added that following CCR ruling, both draft laws amending the criminal legislation must be rejected by the Parliament, as the Venice Commission had also recommended.
In Orban’s view, any potential adjustments brought to these laws must take the shape of a new draft bill that should also launched for the public debate and that “should really take into account the observations of the experts”.