Romania’s Prosecutor General presents 2017 activity report, the most important files. President Iohannis: There are attempts to weaken the independence of the prosecutors

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The General Prosecutor’s Office has presented its 2017 activity report on Wednesday, within an event attended by president Klaus Iohannis, DNA chief prosecutor Laura Codruta Kovesi, DIICOT chief prosecutor Daniel Horodniceanu, the head of the Supreme Court, Cristina Tarcea, CSM representatives and the Romanian Police chief.

Justice Minister Tudorel Toader has missed the balance sheet meeting, as he neither attended the DNA one.

Prosecutor General Augustin Lazar said that prosecutors have solved over 500,000 files last year, with Hexi Pharma and the miners’ riot file being among the most representative.

According to Lazar, prosecutors had a lot of complex cases to solve in 2017 in various social and legal fields, with some of them impacting on Romania’s recent history. “Prosecutors have worked on 1,752,067 files in 2017, out of which they have solved 533,040. 59,839 defendants have been sent to court (around 3,800 minor defendants), out of which 6,092 had been on preventive arrest. 1,036 defendants have been acquitted, 123 of them following the decriminalization of the deeds (1.7% of the defendants sent to court),” Lazar stated.

The Prosecutor General said there have been some representatives cases last year, such as Hexi Pharma file (the diluted disinfectants file), the miners’ riot file, the case on the “ancient treasures” regarding the thefts from the archaeological sites. Lazar said that following this last case, two bronze tablets have been recovered for the national cultural patrimony. The tablets, known as the Troesmi Constitution or Lex Municipii Troesmensium, date back in 170 AD, representing the oldest legal epigraphics documents discovered on Romania’s territory and one of the oldest in Europe.

President Iohannis: Wider control over prosecutors is attempted
President Klaus Iohannis stated that the article on prosecutors in the Constitution is clear, saying that prosecutors are under the Justice ministry’s authority, not under its subordination (referring to the Justice Minister’s call to dismiss DNA chief prosecutor Laura Codruta Kovesi). The head of state opined that by these debates a wider control on prosecutors is attempted.

It has become a habit in Romania to fiercely debate the prosecutor’s status. They invoke an article in the Constitution saying that the prosecutors’ activity is under the authority of the Justice Ministry. The term is <under the authority> of the Justice minister, not under the subordination,” the Romanian President told the balance sheet sitting of the General Prosecutor’s Office.

He added that the confusion is deliberate.

The confusion between these two meanings is deliberate, precisely to induce the idea of a wider control over the prosecutors than the usual one stipulated by the Constitution. It’s just an attempt to weaken the independence of the prosecutors and to legitimate their obedience to the political will, which is unacceptable. We also notice in some political and media speeches a growing concern for the fate of some defendants or criminally convicted people, who are obviously disturbed that the judiciary system is doing its job in their cases, troubling their peace and affecting their welfare. There is the attempt of falsely accrediting the idea that prosecutors are the enemies of the society,” Iohannis concluded.

In his turn, Prosecutor General Lazar said that “the independence of the prosecutors is meant to contribute to an efficient justice”, arguing that the constitutional provisions prevent the intrusion of other authorities.

The statements on the prosecutors’ independence come amid the justice law amendments and amid talks on recalling DNA head Codruta Kovesi from office.

JusMin Tudorel Toader retorted to President Iohannis on Facebook, saying that “nobody has stated that prosecutors are carrying out their activity under the control of the Justice minister”.

Police chief: Policemen have 1,6 million ongoing files under prosecutors’ coordination

The chief or the Romanian Police, Catalin Ionita, said at the Public Ministry’s balance sheet that policemen have around 1.6 million ongoing files under the coordination of the prosecutors.

“The work workload in investigating criminal cases is consistent. Police has almost 1.6 million ongoing cases under the prosecutors’ coordination. This impressive volume comes at a time when the number of policemen has significantly decreased in 2016 and 2017,” Ionita said.

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