Journalist investigation reveals how Romania's PM got cleared of plagiarism accusations
An investigation carried out by local news organization G4Media reveals how, after being accused and investigated of plagiarizing his doctoral thesis, Romania's prime minister Nicolae Ciucă allegedly made sure that his case would be tried by friendly judges who cleared him.
In January 2022, two months after taking power, the Ciucă government was hit by its first major scandal when local journalist Emilia Șercan revealed that the PM had plagiarized his doctoral thesis. Ciucă stated that his thesis was sound and that any subsequent investigation would absolve him of any suspicion of wrongdoing.
While the prosecutor’s office looked into the evidence, the journalist that had broken the story claimed that an attempt to discredit her was ongoing. A separate investigation began into the matter.
Soon after, the Bucharest Court of Appeal weighed and struck down the claims regarding Ciucă’s thesis, effectively clearing his name.
However, as the G4Media investigation shows, one of the judges who tried Ciucă’s case was handpicked, and has a history of being backed by the PM’s party, the National Liberal Party (PNL).
The method allegedly used to bypass the system of random allocation of cases and get the PM’s plagiarism case in front of the right judges was the so-called “cover” method and the G4Media investigation explains the steps of this process. As a result, a panel led by judge Marius Iosif was able to clear Ciucă.
Between 2007 and 2008, Iosif, who at the time worked in the Brașov Court, occupied several government positions with the support of Tudor Chiuariu, a former PNL minister of justice. Iosif is also a freemason, and had been colleagues in the National Grand Lodge of Romania with the government’s spokesperson, Dan Cărbunaru, G4Media reported.
Shortly after the G4Media revelations, Iosif applied to the Superior Council of Magistrates for retirement and his request was approved. Evidence of how the supposedly random assignment of the Ciucă case got to his desk was then deleted from the portal of the Bucharest Court of Appeal.
When contacted by G4Media, neither the PM’s office, nor that of his spokesman, or now-retired judge Iosif, offered any comment.
Another judge, Ionela Tudor, had previously thrown out the claims of Ciucă’s plagiarism by arguing that “the current social and political climate requires stability” and that such claims could serve the PM’s political rivals.