President Klaus Iohannis announced in a press conference on Monday evening that he would not follow up the Justice minister’s request to dismiss the chief prosecutor of the National Anti-corruption Directorate (DNA), Laura Codruta Kovesi.
The Romanian president said the arguments of the minister’s report asking for Kovesi’s dismissal have not convinced him, also adding that the opinion voiced by the Superior Council of Magistracy (CSM) cannot be ignored. CSM has also decided in February to reject minister Tudorel Toader’s report against Kovesi.
“The CSM opinion has reached a totally opposite conclusion as against the so-called report of the minister. The CSM has issued a negative opinion. By the constitutional role of the CSM, as guarantor of the justice independence, this opinion cannot be treated as a mere optional element, even if the opinion does not compel, it cannot be either ignored under any circumstances,” Iohannis stated.
He argued that “while analyzing the same actions or lack of actions and while enforcing the same legal documents, two state authorities- the minister of Justice and CSM-have come to diametrically opposed conclusions.”
The President pointed out that, after he had received minister Toader’s proposal and the CSM opinion, he had asked the specialized departments of the Presidential Administration to submit “an analysis and several proposals”. Following the analysis, the head of state concluded that the justice minister considered the report “a stance”, “which clearly induce the perception that the Justice minister’s evaluation can be subjective”.
Klaus Iohannis also said that another reason for not agreeing to dismiss the anti-corruption watchdog was that the dates and information invoked by the Justice minister are not pertinent, or they are beyond the period which the analysis referred to.
PSD might resort to notifying the Constitutional Court
The Social Democrat Party chairman Liviu Dragnea has not revealed the precise intention of his party before President Iohannis had announced his decision, only saying on Monday morning that PSD would endorse any action that the Justice minister might take if Iohannis refused to dismiss Kovesi.
However, Dragnea has ruled out the version of impeaching the head of state. “We don’t consider the impeachment idea, under any circumstances,” Dragnea stated.
Tudorel Toader-Augustin Zegrean disputes on judicial procedures
Following President’s decision, Justice Minister Tudorel Toader wrote on Facebook “we will notify the Constitutional Court” with stress laid on WE, as an answer to the comments of former CCR chairman, Augustin Zegrean (photo 2).
Zegrean commented that the head of state cannot be forced to dismiss Kovesi by the Justice Minister or by the CCR.
In turn, Tudorel Toader stressed “WE will notify the CCR” and not “I will notify the CCR”.
“WE will notify CCR” is not the same as “I will notify CCR”, Toader wrote on Facebook. Toader claims the president has no competence to assess the professional activity of the DNA chief prosecutor.
Ziare.com reports that former CCR judge and Chairman Augustin Zegrean said “the president cannot be forced by anyone to dismiss Kovesi, not by the Justice Minister, not by the Constitutional Court.”
Zegrean said the Government can challenge the decision to the CCR, but there is no reason, as the President hasn’t violated the procedure or exceeded his constitutional abilities.
“The procedure is: the minister requests, the Superior Council of Magistracy gives a positive or negative opinion and the president decides. Now, the president has decided: he does not suspend, he does not dismiss! That’s all,” Zegrean said.
In another train of thoughts, Zegrean said President Iohannis might face a fragile situation if the procedures to suspend him start, he could be impeached by only 12.5% of the ballots, according to the new bill on referendum.