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Romania Tightens Net Around Embattled Kovesi

Former chief prosecutor slapped with a new indictment even as EU mulls picking her for a top anti-fraud post.

3 April 2019

Laura Codruta Kovesi (pictured), Romania’s former chief prosecutor and a leading candidate to become the European Union’s top prosecutor, may not be allowed to leave the country to take up the job.

 

Kovesi was indicted on corruption charges last week and slapped with a travel ban, AFP reports.

 

She was also banned from discussing the specifics of the case.

 

"It's a measure intended to silence me, to harass all of us in the judicial system who did our job,” Kovesi said. "Probably some people are in such despair that I might get this job [of chief EU prosecutor] that I'm not allowed to speak to the media anymore."

 

She also faces charges relating to an alleged attempt to extract a bribe from a businessman, according to Romania-Insider.

 

Kovesi earned praise for her graft-busting crusade that caught many politicians in its net, including from the ruling Social Democratic Party, or PSD. She was dismissed last July when senior party figures ran out of patience with her. The government unsuccessfully tried to exclude her from contention for the newly created post of EU chief prosecutor.

 

One former Social Democrat leader who fell afoul of Kovesi says PSD is a danger to the country’s European course.

 

Victor Ponta stepped down as prime minister in 2015 amid mass protests over the PSD government’s botched handling of a tragic fire in a Bucharest nightclub. He was also facing trial on corruption charges.

 

“But look, I was accused by Ms. Kovesi. I stepped down, went to the court, got acquitted. I don’t feel any frustration,” he tells Euractiv in an interview published today.

 

“The real issue is that since 2007, when Romania joined the EU, we never had a political force that was anti-European. … Now is the first time when Romanians are faced with the political choice of being pro-European or anti-European, the latter being put on the table by the PSD leader Mr. Dragnea,” he said.

 

Dragnea, barred from holding high office because of a standing conviction, has retained his hold on the leadership as a carousel of weaker figures come and go in the prime minister’s office.

 

 

  • President Klaus Iohannis has called a national referendum in May on the ruling party’s controversial anti-corruption legislation. Iohannis and other critics say the legislation will undermine the independence of prosecutors, Reuters reports.

 

  • European Parliament members and representatives of the member states failed to reach an agreement on the appointment of a chief prosecutor again last week. Two parliamentary committees recommended Kovesi for the job, while member states favor the French candidate Jean-Francois Bohnert, Euractiv reported.
Compiled by Ky Krauthamer
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