Romania Anti-Corruption Warrior Barred From Travel

Published: 02 April 2019

Laura Codruta Kövesi copy copyLaura Codruta Kövesi (CC 3.0)

By Aisha Kehoe Down

The former head of Romania’s National Anti-corruption Directorate, Laura Kovesi, was indicted late last week on charges of abuse of office and taking bribes, and has been forbidden from speaking to the media or traveling abroad.

“It is an attempt to shut me up and harass all of us in the justice system who did our jobs properly,” she told journalists after her hearing. 

It’s a move that the EU and media have deemed questionable and likely politically motivated, given Kovesi’s long record of energetically prosecuting Romanian politicians and ministers. 

Kovesi was respected enough for her effectiveness that she was one of the candidates to lead European Public Prosecutor’s Office when it launches next year. But she made enemies back in Romania, in particular, the leader of the Romania’s Social Democrats Liviu Dragnea. 

Under her leadership of the anti-corruption body, Dragnea was found guilty of corruption and rigging a vote. That prevented him from becoming Romania’s prime minister. 

Now, Kovesi said to journalists, her indictment is likely an attempt to prevent her from taking that position.

Members of the European Parliament reacted to the news with concern.

“Concerned by news that Laura Codruţa Kövesi has been placed under judicial control. @Europarl_EN stands by its candidate for European Public Prosecutor. I'll raise the issue at the EP group leaders' meeting next Wednesday,” wrote Antonio Tajani, president of the body, on Twitter.

“This is totally unacceptable in Europe and unprecedented for an acting #Council presidency of the EU,” wrote Manfred Weber, a member of the Parliament and leader of the European People’s party.