Date: 15 February 2018

Romania’s DNA Late Night Report. A Clash of the Titans?

The outbreak of the DNA scandal (National Anticorruption Directorate, Romanian: Departamentul Național Anticorpuție) brought Laura Codruța Kovesi in front of the Romanian media with first public explanations. In an almost two-hour long press conference marathon, the head of the DNA tried to clarify several information regarding last week’s corruption earthquake generated by the allegations formulated after two prosecutors were supposed to have influenced witnesses and clues. At the request of PM Dăncilă, the Minister of Justice ended his visit in Japan some days earlier and is expected to announce a decision on the DNA, after being asked by the PM for it. For many, this long distance dialogue between institutions looks like a clash of the titans, with both sides waiting for the other to make the first wrong step.

PAP/EPA © Robert Ghement

It was a long Wednesday night in Bucharest, as representatives of the most important national media channels attended the press conference organised, for the first time, in the headquarters of the Romanian National Anticorruption Directorate. Laura Codruța Kovesi insisted on the quality of defendant or convicted of those who launched the allegations against the prosecutors and avoided giving precise explanations about the facts presented by certain Romanian television channels. A recorded material, broadcast on Sunday evening, accused more prosecutors of getting promoted based on fake evidences. The head of the DNA said that Vlad Cosma (former MP), the one who made public the records with prosecutors Negulescu and Onea, had the quality of witness in 12 potential corruption cases investigated in the last years.

Asked by the journalists about the authenticity of the records presented by Cosma , Kovesi avoided a clear answer, stating that the Judicial Inspectorate is conducting investigations in this case. “In the investigation we are talking about, there is an ongoing check of the Judicial Inspection. I stated that prosecutors are not tampering with evidence, we will see if Juridical Inspector’s conclusion is different” she said, denying that she would have had any talk with Onea, Negulescu or Cosma about a possible settlement. “I have no reason to resign. I do not think this attack is a coincidence, we are witnessing a festival led by defendants, this attack is not about Kovesi, it aims to make the Romanian state kneel.” said the head of DNA.

The Minister of Justice ended his visit in Japan earlier, as public records with DNA prosecutors appeared in the media. Most likely, the Romanian PM had a meeting with Tudorel Toader, suggesting him to “talk about the arguments he has taken into account regarding Kovesi’s activity.” Tudorel Toader requested a clear evaluation of Kovesi’s mandate months ago, but avoided delivering an official report with the conclusions.

The National Anticorruption Directorate has become in the last years one of the most visible Romanian institutions in terms of corruption investigations among public figures and politicians. In 2017, a possible replacement of Laura Codruța Kovesi, proposed by the Ministry of Justice, brought heavy protests against the Government, while expressing the need of continuing the fight against corruption. Last days, more opposition leaders announced their support for keeping Laura Codruța Kovesi in office, while the Romanian civil society might take to the streets.

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