Romanian anticorruption head reacts to dismissal: Today’s episode is not a defeat

Laura Codruta Kovesi has reacted to president Klaus Iohannis’ decision to revoke her from the position of head of the National Anticorruption Department (DNA), saying that “today’s episode is not a defeat.” However, she also pointed out that the dismissal decree raises the question of whether there will be a discretionary subordination of the chief prosecutors to the minister of justice.

“I was chief prosecutor of DNA for five years and all I have done, or not done, is noted in a report that will be made available soon. As for the revocation procedure, I remind you that the proposal did not meet the requirements of the law. The CSM (e.n. the Superior Council of Magistracy) gave a negative opinion. I have proved that the reasons put forward by the minister of justice are unrealistic and unfounded,” Kovesi said in a press conference organized after the spokesperson of the Romanian Presidency announced that the president signed the decree to revoke Laura Codruta Kovesi, local Digi24 reported.

“The revocation decree leaves a big question: Will there be a discretionary subordination of the chief prosecutors to the minister of justice? I do not comment on the Constitutional Court’s decision but I would like to point out that the reasoning suggests that prosecutors could be subordinated to the justice minister. A clarification remains necessary,” she added.

She also said she would remain prosecutor but not within the DNA.

Referring to her work at the anticorruption department, Kovesi said she had contributed to “the society’s awareness of the seriousness of corruption.”

“What we managed to prove was to show that public institutions are efficient and work legally, but especially that corruption can be defeated. Today’s episode is not a defeat.”

She also urged Romanian citizens not to abandon the anti-corruption fight, as “corruption can be defeated.” She also thanked her colleagues for the work they have done together. Many of her colleagues were present at the press conference.

Laura Codruta Kovesi was Prosecutor General of Romania between 2006 and 2012. She was appointed chief prosecutor of DNA in 2013, and her current mandate was to end in 2019.

President Klaus Iohannis signed on Monday, July 9, the decree to revoke DNA chief prosecutor Laura Codruta Kovesi, thus respecting a decision of the Constitutional Court (CCR). Many Romanians criticized the president’s decision on social media.

Justice minister Tudorel Toader was the one who requested the dismissal of the DNA head, in February this year, invoking 20 intolerable acts and facts related to her activity as head of this important institution. Although the CSM gave a negative opinion on the minister’s report and Iohannis said he would not revoke Kovesi, Toader decided to address the issue to the Constitutional Court, saying that the president’s refusal triggered a constitutional conflict between the Presidency and Government. The Court later ruled that the president has to sign the decree to revoke Kovesi.

Prosecutor General Augustin Lazar delegated on Monday an interim chief prosecutor to the National Anticorruption Department. Marius Iacob will lead the DNA until president Iohannis appoints a new chief prosecutor, local Digi24 reported. Under the law, the president names a new chief prosecutor at the proposal of the justice minister, with the opinion of CSM.

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Irina Marica, irina.marica@romania-insider.com

(photo source: Inquam Photos / Octav Ganea)