The National Anti-corruption Directorate (DNA) is presenting its 2017 activity report on Wednesday, in a sitting attended by President Klaus Iohannis, Romania’s PG Augustin Lazar, the head os the Supreme Court and in the absence of the Justice minister, Tudorel Toader. The balance sheet sitting comes one day after the Superior Council of Magistracy (CSM) has given a negative opinion on minister Toader’s call to dismiss DNA chief prosecutor, Laura Codruta Kovesi.
President Iohannis told the speech delivered at the DNA balance sheet meeting that we are witnessing an attempt of the politics to subordinate the judiciary, while accusing that several people facing legal problems have joined their forces to discredit the magistrates that had investigated them.
“Unfortunately, we witness virulent manifestations of despair and manipulation attempts with the aim of discrediting the DNA and with the clear goal of subordinating the judiciary system to politics. Inadmissible. Some defendants and criminally convicted people have joined their forces to discredit those who had investigated them,” the head of state pointed out.
Iohannis praised DNA, saying it has succeeded, with 107 prosecutors, to solve 11,000 criminal cases.
“These concerted actions in the media are not successful. Those who planned these actions are the ones who are stuck in the past, who live under the illusion that power means to have privileges that are exerted through abuse. To their bad luck, democracy has been enhanced in Romania, the judiciary system is now independent and efficient, and the civic spirit of the Romanian society has been visible lately. I want to say clearly: In the fight between old and new, between the ones who are living from corruption and those who are fighting corruption, the modern, European Romania will win, acting based on the Western democracy values and on the rule of law,” Iohannis continued, stressing that the incertitude generated by the multiple law amendments in Parliament last year has harmed the Romanian society.
“Amid all this domestic agitated background, the actors of the judiciary system in Romania have proved professionalism and unity to defend the principles governing their activity. I strongly trust that the magistrates’ associations and institutions will keep on vspeaking out when the justice independence is in danger,” the President said.
Iohannis slams JusMin: His evaluation is subjective, tendentious and biased
At the same time, president Iohannis commented on the evaluation made by the Justice minister over the DNA’s activity, saying it is subjective, tendentious and biased, arguing the directorate’s efficiency cannot be challenged.
“Figures don’t lie. In 2017, over 3,800 files have been solved, 16.5% more than in 2016 and almost 1,000 defendants have been sent to court. Based on the DNA indictments, the courtrooms have pronounced final rulings in the case of 713 defendants, while the acquittal share was only 12%, among which one fourth was caused by the Constitutional Court’s decision restricting the abuse of office only to the law breaking. All proves that DNA is working efficiently and cannot be challenged,” the head of state noted, while congratulating the DNA for its outcome last year.
Asked if a decision will be announced today on the request for Kovesi’s dismissal, Iohannis said: “Today, no. I have to wait for the CSM motivation. However, we are far away from a dismissal, farther and farther away,” he concluded.
Kovesi: EUR 148 M have been lost. Is there any interest to recover it?
In her turn, the DNA chief prosecutor, Laura Codruta Kovesi, has stated that following the Constitutional Court decision on the abuse of office, 275 files have been closed, causing a total prejudice of EUR 148 million.
“CCR has pronounced a ruling on the abuse of office, namely that prosecutors can investigate only those deeds that are prejudicing the state budget by breaking a law or an emergency ordinance. As prosecutors, we totally observe the CCR ruling, but we cannot start criminal investigations. 275 such cases have been closed, the prejudice mounting to EUR 148 M. Is there any interest of other state institutions to recover this money? In many cases, although we proved there were criminal cases, the public authorities don’t sue the defendants to ask for compensations,” Kovesi said.
She argued that many times, the people who committed the crimes are precisely those who had the main duty of correctly managing the institutions and to legally manage the funds.
“We wonder if we still have cleaner institutions, if the judiciary’s efforts in fighting corruption must be added other measures,” she said.
Kovesi also reported that 92 people were acquitted last year, while charges were dropped against other 29 following the partial decriminalization of the abuse of office.
According to her, in 2017 the courts sentenced 713 defendants, among whom three deputies, 28 mayors and 30 heads of public institutions or state companies.
At the same time, Kovesi said that 2017 was also the year when DNA had faced legal and deontological issues, referring to Mihaela Iorga and Mircea Negulescu, the two anti-corruption prosecutors who had been expelled form magistracy.
The DNA head dismissed once again allegations that anti-corruption prosecutors would chose at random what files to investigate. Kovesi informed that 3,800 “were laid on the prosecutors’ table” last year and that prosecutors don’t prioritize any case according to its media impact.
“We are not choosing the files. Prosecutors have a certain quota for indictments; they must establish the legal truth based on evidence. There were 6,000 cases still not solved at the end of 2017, almost double than what we can solve annually,” Kovesi pointed out.
However, 3,800 files were solved last year, which represent a record for DNA.
“In only one year, prosecutors heard 23,000 people, which means 85 people heard per day. Over 12 million documents were studied. 1,000 people were heard in only one file, there were 55 searches, 35 documents seized and 27 companies checked. Legal actions were taken against 35 defendants. This file has 465,000 pages,” the DNA chief prosecutor revealed.
Codruta Kovesi stated that 2017 was a difficult year in fighting corruption, where even the action itself to fight against corrption had been questioned.
On the other hand, Kovesi said that many true or false things have been said lately about her, but she is optimistic that DNA would overcome the curent crisis.
“There are true things, or false things about me, but today I will say a true thing about me. I am an optimistic person and very consistent in my optimism and my colleagues know that. The most important resource of DNA are the people who work here. Those people who made efforts to do their job. It has been said here that are going through a crisis situation. Yes, it is a crisis situation that we couldn’t avoid, but we are definitely can draw some conclusions,” Kovesi pointed out.