Romanian president refuses to dismiss head of anti-corruption office

President Iohannis announced he will not remove the Chief Prosecutor of the National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA) from office after the Minister of Justice requested her dismissal.

Delia Budurca
Delia Budurca NewsMavens, Romania
Romanian president refuses to dismiss head of anti-corruption office - NewsMavens
Laura Codruta Kövesi, Wikicommons.

Why this story matters:

Under Laura Codruta Kovesi’s leadership, Romania’s National Anticorruption Directorate has exposed several high-level corruption cases. This has made the 44-year-old prosecutor highly unpopular in some political circles, and her opponents argue that her inquiries are politically motivated.

In mid-February, Minister of Justice Tudorel Toader launched a procedure to have her removed from office for "acts and deeds intolerable in the rule of law".

However, the Superior Council of Magistracy disagreed, and recommended that Kovesi stay as the head of anti-corruption office.

With opposing conclusions from two different official bodies, President Klaus Iohannis could have chosen to side with either camp, but he ruled  in favor of Kovesi, saying that "systematic assessments of the work and management of the National Anticorruption Directorate by national, European and international institutions have been nothing but positive”.

Kovesi’s fight against corruption has resulted in a fully-fledged political and media war against her, but she has survived every blow so far.

Details from the story:

  • In mid-February, the Minister of Justice submitted a proposal to the President to dismiss the DNA’s Chief Prosecutor, along with a report on the managerial activity of the DNA. This was the first step in a procedure in which the President has the last word, according to Romanian law.
  • In mid-March, the President received an opinion from the Superior Council of Magistracy that contradicted the report of the Minister of Justice.
  • “Considering the constitutional role of the Superior Council of Magistracy as the guarantor of the independence of the judiciary system, its opinion cannot be disregarded, even if it’s not binding,” said Iohannis.
  • The president’s decision was based on suggestions by specialists from the presidential administration. 
  • A detailed report of the arguments behind the president’s decision will be sent to the Minister of Justice.
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