President Iohannis: Prosecutors cannot be subordinated to a minister. If necessary, we can convene a referendum

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President Klaus Iohannis has made on Tuesday the first statements on the Constitutional Court’s decision, which compels him to dismiss DNA chief prosecutor Laura Codruta Kovesi.

“I do not comment on this part because, as I said, I’m waiting for the CCR reasoning, we will read until we understand it or we understand something of it, then I will tell you what is to be done or, more precisely, what I will do,” the President said, ziare.com reports.

Iohannis, however, wanted to bring some clarification on the Constitutional Court’s ruling in the Kovesi case.

“This court decision apparently speaks only of a very concrete matter of revoking or non-revoking the DNA Chief Prosecutor. Actually, however, there are several issues that arise and are brought back into question, such as the statute of prosecutors. I will act accordingly: prosecutors must be independent. Under no circumstances should they be politically controlled. Prosecutors cannot be subordinated to a politician, be him a minister. Consequently, whatever we do, Romania, as a state, must ensure the independence of prosecutors, in order to guarantee an independent justice,” Klaus Iohannis stressed.

The President talked about the article in the Constitution, which says prosecutors are operating under the authority of the Minister of Justice.

“It is very true, we have an article in the Constitution according to which the prosecutors operate under the authority of the minister. I understand it like this: the minister has or ought to have authority in the field and to use the authority to defend the independence of the prosecutors, to defend the prosecutors in the public debates, because their work is extremely difficult. So the minister’s authority should be geared towards facilitating the prosecutors’ work, in no case the authority of the minister – as in the article in the Constitution – does not mean that the prosecutors are subordinated to the minister. But it cannot subordinate prosecutors to a politician,” the President said.

However, the head of state underlined that he expects the CCR reasoning before deciding on Laura Codruta Kovesi.

Asked if he considers not following the CCR decision, the head of state replied: “I consider observing the rule of law in Romania, to strengthen it, to take care as much as I can that prosecutors remain independent, obviously by respecting the Constitution.”

As for the referendum suggested by Dacian Ciolos, Iohannis specified that a CCR decision cannot be submitted to the referendum. However, given there are politicians who accuse that there is no independence in the judiciary, “if necessary, we can convene a referendum.”

President Iohannis also said he would observe the Constitution “no matter what happens”.

Justice Minister replies, offers explanation

Shortly after the President’s statements, Justice Minister Tudorel Toader came up with a reply on his Facebook page.

“The independence of the prosecutors in investigating the causes (including the administration of evidence, the adoption of legal solutions) should not be confused with the fact that they operate under the authority of the Justice Minister regarding the administration of the judiciary or the promotion of criminal policy,” Tudorel Toader wrote on Facebook, immediately after the President’s statements.

 

The CCR ruled last Wednesday that there is an institutional conflict between the Government and the Presidency, after the Executive had notified the court over a disagreement prompted by the fact that president Klaus Iohannis had denied to dismiss the chief prosecutor of the National Anti-corruption Directorate, Laura Codruta Kovesi, as the Justice Minister had requested.

CCR had ruled by a majority of votes that there is a conflict on this issue, thus favouring the Government.

“Laura Codruta Kovesi should have been revoked by the President,” CCR head Valer Dorneanu said.

In the official press release, CCR argues that the head of state is to issue the decree to recall DNA chief prosecutor from office.

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