Bogdan Licu, the nominee for Constitutional Court: „I have done some things that no one has ever done, including the Ficior and Vișinescu cases” / The indictments show that another prosecutor, Denisa Cristodor, handled both cases / The mystery surrounding his undergraduate degree
A statement made by prosecutor Bogdan Licu last week in Parliament has caused a stir in the world of magistrates. Heard by the Legal Committee of the Chamber of Deputies for his nomination for a post as a judge at the Constitutional Court (CCR), Bogdan Licu claimed that he had „made” two high-profile cases in which two communists prison torturers were put on trial. However, the indictments show that both investigations were carried out by another prosecutor, Denisa Cristodor.
Also in the context of the nomination to the CCR, a piece of information emerged that raises a question mark over Licu’s undergraduate studies, as there is evidence of two diplomas with the same number and issued by different universities.
„If you Google it you will see that I have done some things that no one has done, ever, including I remind you the Ficior and Vișinescu files which I will not comment on because I do not want to discuss the cases. We magistrates have an obligation of restraint, we are not allowed to discuss cases that we have solved or cases that others have solved.
But I think that, nevertheless, in my work, you will find certain elements in which I was a pioneer (…)”, said prosecutor Bogdan Licu, last week, in a hearing in the Chamber of Deputies, answering a question about the complex cases he has worked on in his career.
The hearing, held in the Legal Affairs Committee, ended with the positive endorsement of his candidacy and its referral to plenary where it will be voted on tomorrow, May 3rd. With a good chance of success given that the nomination came from the PSD.
Licu’s claim is, however, inaccurate: both indictments, in the Ficior and Vișinescu cases, were prepared by Denisa Cristodor, who was the prosecutor in both cases. Licu was not even the head of the Criminal Section of the High Court of Cassation and Justice Prosecutor’s Office of which Cristodor was a member at the time – that post was held by prosecutor Camelia Sutiman. Neither Licu, Cristodor nor Sutiman responded to G4Media messages or calls to comment on the former’s statement.
The Ioan Ficior and Alexandru Vișinescu files came under investigation by the Prosecutor’s Office of the High Court of Cassation and Justice in 2013, following referrals from the Institute for the Investigation of Communist Crimes and the Memory of the Romanian Exile. The two were accused by the Prosecutor’s Office of crimes against humanity and finally sentenced by the courts to 20 years in prison for establishing repressive and abusive detention regimes against political prisoners in the Periprava labour camp (Ficior, 1958-1963) and the Râmnicu Sărat Penitentiary (Vișinescu, 1956-1963).
The investigations have had a great public impact and, given the timing of the offences, have created difficulties in trying to gather evidence after so long a time and to prepare the indictment. Despite this, both cases were sent to court relatively quickly after the Institute’s denunciations (11 months for Ficior, 10 months for Visinescu). In March 2020, prosecutor Denisa Cristodor became head of the Criminal Section of the Prosecutor’s Office of the High Court of Cassation and Justice for a three-year term.
During the time Denisa Cristodor worked on the two cases, Licu was the first deputy prosecutor general of the High Court of Cassation and Justice. It is possible that Licu took credit for these cases on the basis of a provision in the Internal Order Regulation of the Prosecutor’s Office, which stated that „The First Deputy Prosecutor General and the Deputy Prosecutor General act to carry out the orders and measures ordered by the Prosecutor General; they coordinate, control, answer and guide the work of the sections of the High Court of Cassation and Justice Prosecutor’s Office and the other prosecutor’s offices.”
„To coordinate is not to do,” said a justice expert about a possible defence of Licu by invoking this provision of the Rules of Procedure.
Another discrepancy in Bogdan Licu’s résumé relates to his university studies and subsequent undergraduate degree. A 1995 graduate of the Faculty of Law at „Spiru Haret” University in Bucharest, a non-accredited university at the time, Licu was compelled to take his degree exam at a state university – in his case, the Faculty of Law at „Babeș-Bolyai” University in Cluj-Napoca. This took place in February 1996, with the issue of the degree diploma under number 128983 on 3 October of the same year.
However, in 2009, after he lost the document and, on 23 November of the same year, announced this in the Official Gazette in order to obtain a duplicate, Licu stated that his diploma had been issued by the „Spiru Haret” University, mentioning the same number 128983 and the same date of issue – 3 October 1996.
Coincidentally or not, in 2009, when Licu had reached the most important position of his career up to that moment – vice-president of the Superior Council of Magistracy – a huge scandal was unfolding in the public space caused by the authorities’ intention to close down part of the activity of „Spiru Haret” University, a private higher education institution which at that time received the negative reputation of „diploma factory”.
In a reply to G4Media, „Babeș-Bolyai” University said that it had issued both the 1996 diploma and a duplicate after the original was lost (in early 2010), noting that the name of the higher education institution he graduated from – „Spiru Haret” University – also appears on the latter document. Bogdan Licu did not answer G4Media’s questions on this subject either.
The problem of contradictory information about Bogdan Licu’s diploma was also raised by journalist Sorina Matei on Facebook.
It was not the first time that Licu’s name appeared in the part of the Official Gazette dedicated to announcements. In February 2022, the „Mihai Viteazul” National Intelligence Academy, an institution subordinated to the Romanian Intelligence Service, „brought to the attention” the cancellation of the doctoral degree he had obtained in 2011. This came after journalist Emilia Șercan revealed in 2015 that Licu’s doctoral thesis contained massive plagiarism.
As a result, the current prosecutor filed a request to the court to withdraw his PhD, which was finally admitted by the High Court of Cassation and Justice in November 2021. Regarding the decision to withdraw the PhD title, Licu said in the context of the nomination to the CCR that the motivation was that the paper „did not meet the highest scientific requirements”, but rejected accusations of plagiarism.
Translated from Romanian by Ovidiu H.
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