Romania’s president Klaus Iohannis has denied a request to dismiss the head of the National Anticorruption Directorate Laura Codruta Kovesi, but the Government is determined to fight his decision at the Constitutional Court.
The Justice Minister Tudorel Toader has not come to terms with president Klaus Iohannis’ rejection of his request to sack the head of the National Anticorruption Directorate Laura Codruta Kovesi. He says he has written the first draft of the challenge he intends to send to the Constitutional Court.
His move has the backing of the Social Democrat leader Liviu Dragnea and the Prime Minister Viorica Dancila, says minister Toader: “I have detailed to Ms Dancila the main elements that can be included in the challenge to the Constitutional Court. In the coming days, I will be writing a final version so as to be able to also use the President’s document. I will see the Prime Minister again on Monday and that very day we will refer the matter to the Constitutional Court.”
The Justice Minister says the President had prejudged the case and did not bring legal or managerial arguments to justify his decision. His conclusion is that the President’s move was an exclusively political act.
The President, however, says his decision is fully grounded in law. Klaus Iohannis: “In my opinion, there is no conflict and no grounds to refer the case to the Constitutional Court. Throughout the whole process, which began with the Minister’s request for dismissal, the opinion of the Superior Council of Magistracy and, finally, my decision, the relevant legislation in force has been respected 100%. As we all know, the law gives the President the freedom to accept or not a request for dismissal.”
The negative opinion given by the Superior Council of Magistracy on the justice minister’s proposal, which the President invoked when he denied the request, is in itself a sufficient argument in favour of the President’s decision, says the former head of the Constitutional Court Augustin Zegrean. In Zegrean’s view, the president made the right decision because, he says, the procedure is the following: the Justice Minister makes a proposal, the Superior Council of Magistracy gives its opinion and the President makes his decision. The Superior Council of Magistracy, which guarantees the independence of the judiciary, unanimously issued a negative opinion, so the President didn’t really have a choice, emphasised Zegrean. He believes in fact that the whole issue was over the moment the President gave his verdict.
We recall that the proposal to dismiss the head of the National Anticorruption Directorate Laura Codruta Kovesi was accompanied by a report in which Minister Toader wished to demonstrate that Kovesi is responsible for grave violations of duty. The report was described by the ruling coalition formed by the Social Democratic Party and the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats as grounded and well-researched, but has been criticised by the opposition as biased and inconsistent. This latter view is shared by President Klaus Iohannis, who also grounded his final decision on the negative opinion given by the Superior Council of Magistracy, an opinion that is advisory, but mandatory.