Romanian Justice minister Tudorel Toader has sent a letter to the prestigious Financial Times publication, saying he has nothing against Laura Codruta Kovesi, but lobbies against her candidature for the European Prosecutor’s Office and says she should not be named as European chief prosecutor. The article is entitled “The ‘coercion’ in Romanian anti-corruption campaign”.
“I have nothing personally against Laura Codruta Kovesi (…), but from the evidence I saw-from judges, prosecutors and other credible sources- she should not be appointed in this position of vital importance”, Toader writes. The Romanian Justice minister also says that Kovesi was not dismissed last year because the anti-corruption agency she headed was targeting corrupt politicians, but because DNA was breaking the law. Toader claimed that the Romanian Constitutional Court proved that “Mrs Kovesi’s investigation strategy was based on coercion”.
According to the letter, Toader claims that after Kovesi had left from the DNA’s helm, he discovered that during her four-year mandate investigations had been opened against 3,420 judges and prosecutors, almost half of the total number. Toader further says that the investigations had been opened, but the files had never got to court, and they had just been used to constrain the judiciary system. He adds that the section for investigation magistrates had taken over 1,422 files and around 70 per cent of them were ex officio notifications, and not the result of suspicions or complaints.
Later on in the day, the minister explained the letter had been sent on behalf of the Romanian Government. “It is an official letter, drafted and sent on behalf of Romania’s Government“, Toader told Hotnews.ro.
Asked if the letter has been sent to other publications or institutions as well, if it is a right for reply to a previous article published by FT lead and if it is a paid article, the Justice minister replied by SMS. “I did not know if the initial article had been paid“, considering that Hotnews had never mentioned if the FT first editorial would have been paid.
The Romanian Justice minister’s letter has been published in the Letters to the Editor column where authors usually write about topics previously tackled in the newspaper, pros and cons. Toader’s letter is among other texts written, among others, by local authorities in UK, analysts, lobbyists, financial experts on various social and economic topics.
Minister Toader’s letter comes amid the Conference of the Presidents today in Brussels, when the president of the European Parliament together with the leaders of the political groups in the EP will meet to establish the negotiation team with the EU Council for the appointment of the future European chief prosecutor.
Also today, Kovesi is summoned for hearing at the special section investigating magistrates in the case where she is criminally prosecuted after a denunciation filed by the fugitive defendant Sebastian Ghita.
Later on Thursday, the National Anti-corruption Directorate (DNA) has accused Justice minister Toader he had presented unreal statistics in the letter to the Financial Times. DNA releases some of the official statistics regarding that files involving magistrates, showing that most of them are opened following complaints. DNA announced it had sent Financial Times an address, asking the newspaper to correct “some unreal information” previously communicated by Justice minister Toader.
Anti-corruption watchdog argues that, when the special section investigating magistrates has started its activity, it had taken over only 275 files, underway at DNA, with only 34 being ex-officio notifications, which represents 12%, thus contradicting Toader’s statements on “1,422 files and around 70 per cent of them were ex-officio notifications”.
Another example refers to the minister’s allegation that, during Kovesi’s mandate, DNA has opened investigation against 3,420 judges and prosecutors. “Actually, the total number of investigations involving magistrates recorded at DNA during January 1, 2014-June 30, 2018 (4 years and 8 months) stood at 2,396. During the same period, 1,922 cases were closed down for the notifications were unfounded“, reads the DNA press release.