Romania: Justice Minister’s Bid to Remove Anti-graft Officer Rejected

Published: 28 February 2018

Laura Codruta Kövesi

Laura Codruta Kövesi, Graft Prosecutor in Romania (Source: AGERPRES, Youtube CC BY)

By Katarina Sabados

Romania’s judicial watchdog rejected on Tuesday the justice minister’s bid to dismiss a key anti-corruption prosecutor for abusing her authority.

Protests followed last week’s press conference of Justice Minister Tudorel Toader, who announced his 20-point argument for the dismissal of Laura Codruta Kovesi of Romania’s anti corruption body, DNA, accusing her of damaging the country’s reputation abroad.

“You won’t get away with this,” the crowd chanted. 

Romania’s President Klaus Iohannis - who has the final word in this case - has supported Kovesi, who heads the anti-corruption agency since 2013. Since then, the body has been rigorous in investigating politicians, lawyers, and businessmen, for a number of offenses including bribery, conflicts of interest, and abuse of power, yielding a notable rise in convictions that is garnering praise from Brussels.

Toader stated that the debate over Kovesi’s leadership would continue “regardless of what the CSM decides, of what the president decides, of what the Constitutional Court decides,” according to Reuters.

The Superior Magistrates Council (CSM) voted against the application on Tuesday and said it would provide an explanation later. However, more than 1,000 magistrates signed a petition declaring Toader’s attempt to remove Kovesi a threat to the integrity of prosecutors, who would constantly fear dismissal for doing their job properly if it were accepted. 

Kovesi maintains that the allegations by the justice minister are baseless and that the agency has improved Romania’s standing abroad through anti-corruption measures.

The DNA has sent over 70 members of parliament to trial since 2006. The speakers of parliament’s lower house and senate are both currently on trial in separate cases.