The missing piece in the judiciary puzzle. Next step: the colonization of the system
The latest decision of the Constitutional Court, which paves the way for the voiding of evidence gathered on the basis of protocols signed with the Romanian Intelligence Service (SRI) in 2009 and 2016, finally satisfies the interests of those highly placed individuals who are under criminal investigation. On the one hand, those with inquests and indictments in progress have a good chance of being cleared. On the other hand, this decision will be used to justify the need for additional measures for those already in prison: amnesty, pardon, new grounds for trials review and an appeal in annulment, basically anything.
It will be claimed that it would be unfair, after the Court’s decision, for those who have already been imprisoned on the basis of evidence illegally gathered, not to be compensated through reparatory measures. At that point, the Court’s decision will be an additional reason for the PSD – ALDE majority to force purges among the magistrates who worked on these protocols and, in addition, to hasten the assault on the secret services.
Liviu Dragnea has already announced in an interview for a publication in Brussels that there will be changes to the law on the operation of secret services aimed at „preventing their influence on justice, parliament and government.” With the takeover of control over the services and with a wiped-out judiciary, the PSD leader would take a step towards a complete takeover of the state.
Many will remark on the fact that the Constitutional Court’s decision leaves it to the courts to decide whether the evidence in a case has been gathered illegally or not, on a case-by-case basis. Hence, what is the problem? It is in fact more significant than it would seem.
The Court’s decision on the protocols concluded between the General Prosecutor’s Office and the SRI should be read in conjunction with the other measures that have already crippled the judiciary system.
What judge would have the courage to declare the evidence to be legal in a high profile case, knowing that the Judicial Inspectorate or the Special Investigation Section of the Magistrates may knock on his/her door the very next day? The two institutions are already functioning as genuine instruments of political repression.
Almost all magistrates who had important cases (August 10th violence, Tel Drum, Voiculescu or others) were executed in order to intimidate the system and totally discourage any act of justice involving senior politicians or influential characters in society.
Presently, there is a bitter struggle in view of colonizing the justice system and the judiciary with people close to the powers that be. Justice Minister Tudorel Toader has sent for the five proposals for chief prosecutors to Cotroceni after Laura Codruta Kovesi was dismissed for the third time.
The fight for the removal of the chief prosecutor, Augustin Lazar, is also underway. On the other side, those in power are trying to promote some obedient magistrates at the High Court of Cassation and Justice, another key institution in the system. The Judicial Inspectorate has initiated verification procedures against the head of the High Court, Cristina Tarcea, who was sent before the judges section of the SCM on charges of „unjustified refusal to perform a duty of service and non-compliance with the provisions on the random distribution of cases”.
As of November 2018, judge Lia Savonea, one of the most influential members of the SCM, has called for the revocation procedure to be activated against the head of the High Court. Savonea is the wife of lawyer Mihai Savonea, ex cabinet partner of PSD Senator Cătălin Voicu, convicted for corruption.
It is almost useless to add to our list the Constitutional Court’ decisions that had the effect of partially de-criminalizing offences such as the abuse of office, negligence, false testimony, the mutilation of the criminal code and criminal procedure code – all executed for the benefit of the offenders.
Former DNA Chief, Daniel Morar, has had a role in the destruction of the judiciary, from the position of Rapporteur in important cases and that of an influential judge in the Court. Blinded by pride, he may have realized the damage caused too late.
The errors and excesses of the judiciary have equally contributed to this situation. They are being used today by unscrupulous people, by those who want to take revenge, by politicians and important businessmen. The last shots in the foot have been self-inflicted by prosecutors themselves. Finally, the anti-corruption prosecutors’ activity came to a grinding halt, as the former interim DNA chief, Anca Jurma, found herself, not least because of causes internal to the institution.
In order to avoid a long-term disaster, with long lasting effects, (years, if not decades), the colonization of the system with stooges must be avoided. If PSD and ALDE succeed in populating the system with obedient magistrates in key positions, it will take years for the judiciary to get back on track.
Just remember how difficult it was to clean the vast corridors of the High Court, controlled by former PSD Senator Cătălin Voicu. Today we are in full restoration mode, and if this development is not arrested or delayed, the chances of system recovery – even if the PSD loses over two years of elections – drop dramatically.
The bitter irony of it all is that the destruction of the justice system takes place even as Romania exercises the presidency of the Council of the European Union, and while one of the priorities announced by the government in the presidency’s program is the „Europe of common values”.
The one who brought the government closer to reality was Guy Verhofstadt, the leader of the ALDE MEPs, with his warning to the Dăncilă government: ” Through the fact that you still ignore the recommendations of the Venice Commission, you are getting ever closer to have the infringement procedure under Article 7 of the EU Treaty launched against you ».
What will President Klaus Iohannis answer when asked during the campaign how he struggled for the independence of justice and how did he concretely support the fight against corruption?
Traducerea: Ruxandra Stoicescu
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