Update: Justice minister after evaluating chief prosecutors: Each authority should stick to its jurisdiction. Lazar’s, Kovesi’s recalls ‘not advisable’
Row in PSD over Justice: Former PMs Ponta, Nastase vs chairman Dragnea.
Justice Minister Tudorel Toader on Wednesday presented the evaluation report on the chief prosecutors’ activity, announced several weeks ago amid the National Anti-corruption Directorate’s investigation over the controversial GEO 13 intended to amend the criminal law and following Senate Speaker’s appeal to the Constitutional Court.
Despite rumors on potential dismissals of the Prosecutor General and anti-corruption chief prosecutor, the 19-page report didn’t any mention any resignation request, but underlined that every law authority must remain within its constitutional boundaries and stick to its jurisdiction.
The minister stated that “starting procedure of revoking Prosecutor General Augustin Lazar and DNA head Laura Codruta Kovesi is not advisable”. However, he informed that the Justice minister should ensure a close monitoring over the DNA, DIICOT prosecutors and Prosecutor’s Office.
Justice minister told a press release that he has requested notes from the Prosecutor’s Office upon the Supreme Court and from the DNA and that he has received them in due time. “I had also meetings with both chief prosecutors (editor note: Augustin Lazar and Codruta Kovesi). They both came in less than 10-15 minutes since I summoned them for talks. It was a coincidence that the meeting with Mrs Kovesi took place on the same day when I met US Ambassador Klemm,” Toader said.
“The premise of this evaluation, the premise of the rule of law is that each authority should stay on its constitutional layer, to observe its jurisdiction. The rule of law has a well structured architecture,” the minister argued.
Toader underlined that the Constitutional Court ruling says it has been a constitutional judicial conflict triggered by the DNA’s investigation over the way the GEO 13 had been adopted, arguing that this interference is very serious and it breaks the fundamental law’s principles.
“DNA assumed the authority of probing into a field which exceeds the legal framework, which can lead to an institutional blockage. The Public Ministry has exerted a pressure on the members of the Government, which is affecting its activity and is intending to intimidate the delegate lawgiver to carry out its constitutional duties,” the Justice minister pointed out.
Toader mentioned that he personally made this assessment with no pressure, or interference from anyone. “It was a judicial conflict for the prosecutor got off its institutional authority and stepped in the area of the delegate lawgiver,” he said.
“Prosecutors cannot investigate the opportunity and the circumstances in which a regulatory documents has been adopted,” he insisted.
President Iohannis: I am very content with the Public Ministry’s activity
President Klaus Iohannis replied that the Justice minister has the right to monitor the chief prosecutors’ activity, while saying he is content with activity carried out by Prosecutor General Augustin Lazar and by DNA chief prosecutor Laura Codruta Kovesi.
“If we closely read the Constitution and the laws in force we’ll find that the Public Ministry is carrying out its activity under the Justice minister’s eye, which is a good thing and I actually expect the minister to support the Public Ministry, the Prosecutor General, the DNA and DIICOT chief prosecutors to accomplish their missions better,” the President stated.
He added that, if the Justice Ministry and the Public Ministry have “a loyal cooperation”, things could go better than early this year, when the two institutions had “divergent positions” on GEO 13.
On the other hand, the president declared himself content with the chief prosecutors’ activity.
“If the Justice ministers wants to monitor he has all rights to do it (…) I am very content with the DNA’s activity. The Public Ministry, including DNA are doing their jobs very well,” Iohannis concluded.
PM Grindeanu: DNA must work beyond certain physical persons
The National Anti-corruption Directorate is not represented by “Mr. Negulescu or Mrs. Kovesi”, but it is an institution that must work beyond certain physical persons, PM Sorin Grindeanu stated on Thursday.
“I have given and I am giving full credit to the Justice minister. The fact that he presented an evaluation it’s in his prerogatives. I had a talk with him before the public presentation. I have understood his arguments very well, I agree to them. As a conclusion, all mechanisms should work very well if the anti-corruption fight could be really strong in Romania, but mechanisms are not related to persons. DNA is not represented by Mr. Negulescu or Mrs. Kovesi, but it has to work beyond certain physical persons,” the premier said.
PSD chairman Liviu Dragnea: I have a certain disappointment.
The Social Democrat chairman voiced open disappointment related to the Justice minister’s decision not to sack the chief prosecutors. Dragnea stated that he has “a certain disappointment” regarding Toader’s decision to maintain Augustin Lazar and Codruta Kovesi in office. “I saw an argument to be revoked with a conclusion to be kept in office,” he argued.
However, the Justice Minister’s decision to put on hold the issue of the chief prosecutors’ mandates has been slammed from within the party, but escalated into a personal reckoning among the party’s current and old leaders. Former PSD chairmen and PMs Adrian Nastase and Victor Ponta teamed up against Liviu Dragnea on the justice topic.
After former PM Adrian Nastase posted in his blog that a new cohabitation pact between PSD ruling party and President Iohannis is in sight, with the judiciary being left to the latter, Liviu Dragnea replied in the media that there is no cohabitatin pact on that, accusing Nastase that he is plagiarizing Victor Ponta, who also talked about such thing the other days.
Victor Ponta has promptly reacted on Facebook, accusing Dragnea of arrogance and that he has perfectly copied former president Basescu’s style. “He (Dragnea) is turning PSD in what has been the Democratic Party (PD) in the 2000s and Romania’s ruling into the leadership of the Teleorman County Council,” Ponta stated, among others.