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The National Anticorruption Directorate: Coroner’s Report

The National Anticorruption Directorate: Coroner’s Report

The time of death of the famous National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA) was officially called on October 29, 2018 by a DNA prosecutor talking with the interim head of the institution. Until this diagnostic from the inside arrived, we had all been witnessing the DNA agonizing for nearly two years in institutional purgatory. A slow death if ever there was one, beginning with the uncoupling from the SRI threads. But the 2016 decision of the Romanian Constitutional Court (CCR) did not cause the death of the fight against corruption, the removal of the Romanian Intelligence Service from criminal investigations notwithstanding. (the decision has significantly diminished the prosecutors’ investigation capacities).

The disease was only truly triggered by the hard blows administered in Parliament by the PSD-ALDE coalition against criminal law, in tandem with the Constitutional Court. Thus, the most common offenses of corruption, such as abuse of office or conflict of interest,were completely or partially de-criminalized. There were other decisions that tied the prosecutors’ hands, as it happened in the case of OUG 13. The Court has determined that prosecutors can not investigate the circumstances of adopting an Emergency Ordinance.

The castration operation carried out by Parliament and the CCR was reinforced with direct attacks against magistrates through the Judicial Inspection. Under the stooges Netejoru and Stan, the Judicial Inspection attacked each prosecutor investigating important cases, with the obvious purpose of intimidating them. Threatened with exclusion from the magistracy or other arbitrary penalties, most prosecutors backed off. After all, they are employees of the state, operating in rather rigid hierarchical systems, extremely sensitive to political will.

The powers that be sent them all the message that their services were no longer needed. Quite the opposite, in fact. Those who continued to pursue politicians would be hunted, watched, or ousted. Furthermore, the PSD and ALDE signaled something essential, through all changes to the laws of the judiciary: they will do everything to bring prosecutors back under political control. For this very reason, they have affirmed that they are not magistrates, but direct subordinates of the Minister of Justice. They have set up a special section to investigate the crimes committed by magistrates, with the purpose of making examples of those who refuse to capitulate. A real fight against those fighting corruption has begun.

To all of this, one must add the media harassment, the attacks, the denigration and the systematic vilification of DNA prosecutors. Justice Minister Tudorel Toader administered the final blow in February 2018 when he requested Laura Codruta Kovesi be removed from office. A few months later, on July 9, 2018, President Klaus Iohannis signed the decree without as much as an explanation. With that gesture, most have understood that the fight has ended, decrying the fact that no institution is fighting anymore. Could the head of the state not fight a bit more convincingly for the DNA?

Meanwhile, Minister Toader also called for the dismissal of General Prosecutor Augustin Lazar. The latter is still battling to delay the moment when the Government will impose the next general prosecutor, the pyramid’s tip in the prosecutor’s office.

Some prosecutors have criticized the Romanian Intelligence Service for having withdrawn completely to the barracks and for not yet releasing relevant information about high-profile corruption, a right the SRI did not lose after the Court’s decision. However, in blaming the SRI, anti-corruption prosecutors may have merely attempted to paper over their own helplessness. It is not impossible that the SRI will do its job, while prosecutors hesitate. Noteworthy in the Jurma and Mirica dialogue, published by G4Media, is that both find that prosecutors are scared, that the big men in the DNA behave cowardly, and that although there are potential cases to be prosecuted, they are kept on file.

Did DNA prosecutors give up too easily? After all, aren’t they paid good wages, aren’t they trained to withstand stress, pressures and rough conditions? Could they do their job as if nothing happened? It’s hard to say. In any case, the public’s expectations were and are still very high. Let us not forget that people went out in the streets braving frost and blizzard in 2017 for the DNA, and they continued to do it for months. These people have every right to be disappointed today. The DNA enjoyed unprecedented external support, praise in the MCV reports, superlatives in the Western press, and the sincere envy of the Bulgarian neighbors.

The weakness of many DNA prosecutors is not the only aggravating factor; we must add the scandals that have crushed the institution from the inside. Most prosecutors are good professionals, but there have been enough cases that raised serious questions about the human quality of some DNA magistrates. There are also the cases of stooges in the system, magistrates such as Anca Florea, Lucian Netejoru, Lia Savonea or others like them, ready to execute political orders and work against the interests of the guild they belong to.

It would be an exaggeration and a lie to say that DNA has succumbed to internal causes. These factors have merely contributed to a premeditated murder, executed in plain sight by several authors named : Liviu Dragnea, Tudorel Toader, PSD and ALDE, plus the unseen alliance of the big criminals, made up of businessmen, politicians and press moguls.

The dialogue between Anca Jurma and Florentina Mirica has a dramatic, almost tragic ring to it. Two women are desperately looking to resuscitate the patient, but they quickly realize that no one else is there to help them, they work in vain, and prosecutors sit on cases by filing them, and the army of men in DNA behaves like rats on a sinking boat.

Anca Jurma’s (interim head of institution) determination should be noted in this context. Although she does not enjoy the authority of a full mandate, she asks prosecutors to follow through with cases despite being in an atmosphere of total demobilization. Jurma shows more courage than the „army of men” together. The fact that she did not resign, that she did not adopt the classical defensive attitude shows that the interim head of the DNA has a true and responsible magistrate’s conscience.

Instead of an epilogue, here is a scene described by the Interim DNA Chief in the dialogue with her subordinate: „I heard a conversation in a restaurant, at a table next to mine, with two individuals who were doing business with the City Hall, and it still rings in my ears: the DNA has died, the general prosecutor is in evaluation (…) so there is no problem anymore! „.

The DNA we know no longer exists. The institution must, however, survive when the country is lead by criminals. As long as we see that there still are prosecutors willing to do their job at any cost, even in conditions of total hostility, of institutional abdication or cowardice, there is still hope that one day the institution can be restarted and its foundations rebuilt.

Traducerea: Ruxandra Stoicescu

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