Fate of special prosecutors’ unit tests Romania’s ruling coalition

Foto: INQUAM/George Călin

Dissensions have arisen in Romania’s ruling coalition on what to with a special prosecutors’ unit tasked with investigating magistrates for wrongdoing.

Unit

Justice Minister Stelian Ion went as far as to say the coalition may collapse if the three parties in the centrist coalition fail to reach an agreement on the fate of the unit.

Mr Ion, who is from the reformist Save Romania Union says the government must dismantle the unit to stick to electoral promises it made to reform the justice system.

The minister last week said he would call for a parliament sitting to disband the unit. But a minority Hungarian party disagrees.\

Coalition

Prime Minister Florin Citu on Monday said: “The coalition must find a solution to resolve the issue.”

Ludovic Orban, the Liberal Party chairman on Monday insisted that all the parties are determined to disband the unit. However, they haven’t yet reached a consensus on how to do it.

The Council of Europe’s independent advisory body on constitutional matters known as the Venice Commission last week advised Romania to shut down the unit.

Anti-corruption Directorate

Mr Ion said the Commission had recommended that the unit, known as the Special Section, be dismantled. It said future investigations should be carried out by the National Anti-corruption Directorate.

The European Commission and foreign diplomats have said that the unit could be used to intimidate magistrates and thwart Romania’s anti-corruption fight.

The justice minister said a minority Hungarian party in the coalition voted against disbanding the unit because it doesn’t trust the anti-corruption office.

In turn Hungarian lawmaker Csoma Botond, accused him of “slipping toward Stalinism… as he thinks he’s in possession of the absolute truth”.

Council of Europe

Parliament voted to disband the unit in March. Under new rules, magistrates would have been investigated only with the consent of the Supreme Council of Magistrates.

However, in May, the council voted against shutting it down. The vote was non-binding but gave the unit a boost. Supporters believe magistrates should be made accountable for the sentences they pass.

Romania’s justice minister moves to dismantle special prosecutors’ unit after Council of Europe recommendation

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