Justice minister Tudorel Toader has announced on Wednesday that he is kicking off the procedure to dismiss Romania’s Prosecutor General, Augustin Lazar (photo).
Minister Toader presented an assessment report of Lazar’s activity as the PG, containing 20 reasons to have him sacked. Above all, Toader claims that Lazar has been named by President Iohannis without a preliminary evaluation, upon the proposal of the Justice minister back then, Raluca Pruna. Moreover, the Justice minister argues the file proposing Lazar contained a resolution to dismiss a case that targeted President Iohannis himself.
“President Iohanis signed the appointment in the PG seat on April 27, 2016, without having the evaluation of his professional performance criteria. So, it means the Justice minister back then has made the proposal for the PG position without observing the legal procedures and criteria. The Romanian President did not check the legality of the evaluation (…) Why the Justice minister at that time has sent the incomplete file? (…) we don’t think the appointment has to do something with one of the documents attached to the candidature file where there is a resolution issued by Lazar for dismissal of one cases related to the incumbent Romania’s President,” Toader said.
Augustin Lazar was named as Prosecutor General on April 28, 2016, by president Klaus Iohannis, upon the proposal of former Justice minister, Raluca Pruna.
‘Assignments on the rise in Lazar’s mandate’
The Justice minister also argues that Augustin Lazar wrote in his management project that he will cut the number of assignments, but in fact they have been on the rise during his term.
At the same time, Toader reproaches the Prosecutor General the fact he has not observed the Constitutional Court’s rulings.
Toader has listed 20 points as reasons to dismiss Lazar, among which the fact that Lazar has challenged the bills amending the justice laws, especially the provision Okaying the special section to investigate magistrates, previously ruled as constitutional by the Constitutional Court.
The minister accuses PG Lazar of breaking the law when he signed the secret protocols with the intelligence services, arguing he therefore “created the premises of a parallel justice system, incompatible with the rule of law”.
Toader admitted the evaluation of Augustin Lazar encompasses 20 points, precisely the same as in the case of Laura Codruta Kovesi, former anti-corruption prosecutor, also dismissed from office this summer, but added he could add more.
JusMin exemplified as the first point among those 20 the fact that Lazar has endorsed that Kovesi’s evaluation had been groundless, thus accusing the PG that he had been on Kovesi’s side.
Lazar: A step to destabilize the Public Ministry
General Prosecutor Augustin Lazar said Wednesday evening that the evaluation report is actually the answer of the Executive to the Venice Commission’s opinion.
“Two days ago, the Venice Commission said that the prosecutors’ independence could be affected by the appointment and dismissals procedures, recommending that these provisions be examined. The report presented today is the way the Executive, through the Minister of Justice, understands to respect the authority of the Public Ministry as part of Romanian justice system,” Augustin Lazar said Wednesday evening.
The Prosecutor General said that Toader’s approach, which runs against the Judicial Inspectorate and CSM analyses, is likely to destabilize the Public Ministry.
“With regard to the statements of the Justice Minister, I reserve the right to answer during the following days. Observing the constitutional principles and values was the basis for my mandate,” Lazar said.
Augustin Lazar said he is not indifferent to what is going to happen, but he refused to give details about the classification of a file on President Klaus Iohannis, on which the Minister referred to.
“I want to send a signal that people should trust the prosecutors. The Constitution is ours, it belongs to all of us. We will remain faithful to the spirit of the Constitution in the sense of representing the rights and freedoms of the citizens. I am sorry for the emotional state I am in, but I am not indifferent to what happens, it is a special moment in my career and for Romania. We will pass on the torch from the old generation to the next generation, we will pass the torch of magistrates’ independence. May God help us,” Augustin Lazar said.