28 Feb 2018

Total war in the Romanian Judiciary

The Justice Minister, Tudorel Toader, has called for the dismissal of Laura Codruta Kövesi, the head of the national anti-corruption agency and one of country's most popular politicians. Will it cause a new wave of protests on the streets of Romania?

Delia Budurca
Delia Budurca NewsMavens, Romania
Source: Agerpres
Total war in the Romanian Judiciary - NewsMavens
Laura Codruta Kövesi. Wikimedia Commons

Why this story matters:

Toader's move is widely interpreted as a punishment of Kövesi, who has been an active critic of the government. On numerous occasions, she spoke out about the corruption and autocratic inclinations of ruling politicians.

According to Toader, she fostered a false image of Romania as a country in which the rule of law is under threat.

Recently, Kövesi, who serves as the National Anticorruption Directorare (DNA)'s prosecutor-in-chief, opposed a governmental decree that would have decriminalized certain forms of corruption and seen dozens of officials freed.

She believes that these amendments to the legal framework pose a serious threat to the Romanian judicial system and will affect one in three cases brought forward by the DNA.

Given the support of the Romania's president Klaus Johannis, Kövesi's popularity and the public's disillusionment with politicians, this development could trigger wave of protests comparable to those of February 2017. 

politics, illiberalism

Details from the story:

  • Last Thursday, during a press conference the Justice Minister Tudorel Toader has read a 38-page-long report of DNA’s activity with 20 allegations against Kövesi. He refused to answer the press's questions.
  • He accused the DNA's chief of undermining the government and defying Romania’s constitutional court. He belives that she exceeded her duties byt making unfounded claims in interviews given to foreign news agencies.
  • On Tuesday, Kövesi will be heard by the Superior Council of Magistracy, which, according to the law, will give an advisory opinion to the Romanian President. The Justice Minister Tudorel Toader confirmed he will be there too.
  • Romanian President Klaus Johannis has the final say in this decision. He already stated that he is satisfied by DNA’s activity and has no reason to fire its chief.
  • The success of the DNA under her leadership has made Kövesi a star.
  • On the evening of the press conference, 26,000 people signed an online petition to support Kövesi, 20,000 in the first two hours. “Romanians' trust in the DNA is quite remarkable,” she told BBC.
  • In February 2017, more than half a million of Romanians took to the streets to protest against an emergency government ordinance. The regulation would have seen corruption charges against a number of leading politicians from the ruling PSD-ALDE coalition dropped.
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