Romania’s Constitutional Court admitted, with five votes against four, the objection raised by the Chamber of Deputies in the case of the panels of three judges formed by the High Court (ICCJ) before January 23 this year, deciding that ICCJ breached the law by not setting up panels specialized in corruption cases, G4media.ro reported.
ICCJ set up specialized panels as of January 23. All corruption lawsuits judged by three-judge panels not having reached the final sentence by January 23 would be started from the scratch, experts consulted by G4media.ro explained.
Nevertheless, an official interpretation of the decision’s effects is still expected. Former Social Democrat leader Liviu Dragnea, who was given a 42-month jail final sentence by a three-judge panel in June 2018, therefore his case would not be re-judged, according to the interpretation given by the experts quoted by G4media.ro. However, Dragnea's lawyers will most likely force an extraordinary appeal based on the Constitutional Court's decision. In May 2019, the five-judge panel upheld the sentence given in June 2018.
ICCJ Cristina Tarcea argued against the Constitutional Court’s decision, underlining that the five-judge panels, although not specialized in corruption deeds, are entitled to handle such lawsuits when the case reached the appeal, but lower, three-judge panel should be specialized in corruption deeds.
The Constitutional Court’s requirement, of specialized panels of judges, would create practical problems since in some years 100% of the cases are related to corruption deeds -- and the panels not specialized would have no activity. Separately, panels of Romanian judges have submitted inquiries to the EU Court of Justice about the Constitutional Court’s right to decide in such cases (related to the way ICCJ sets the panels of judges).
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