Camelia Bogdan, a judge from Bucharest who convicted the Romanian politician and businessman Dan Voiculescu to a long prison term for fraud and money laundering in 2014 has been suspended for a second time.
She is the first judge in Romania to be definitively suspended. Critics said the ruling served as a warning to other judges not to pursue high-level corruption cases.
Judge Bogdan lost her appeal on Tuesday at the High Court of Cassation and Justice which upheld a 2018 ruling to suspend her for misconduct. The ruling is final.
She was accused of taking on a number of cases in 2016 for a colleague who was on leave. When the colleague returned, she handed back all the cases except for a fraudulent land restitution case.
One of the people on trial in that case was Aurel-Jean Andrei, the husband of the then-President of the Bucharest Tribunal, Laura Andrei. He was eventually convicted of being an accomplice to fraud and barred from working as a notary. He still teaches law at Bucharest University.
„The big fishes of corruption can breathe easily: their walking nightmare judge Camelia Bogdan has been suspended definitively from the magistracy!” wrote journalist Odine Gherghut.
„By punishing Camelia Bogdan, they’ve made her an example of what can happen to a magistrate if they aren’t ‘lenient’ with high-level corruption,” she wrote in Santinela.
Judge Bogdan was first suspended for six months in 2017 on the grounds that she participated as an expert in a training course for the Romanian agriculture ministry in 2014 for which she received a fee.
She had received approval for taking part as an expert, but a paid consulting activity was against the rules, according to the judiciary law applicable at that time. Later on, Judge Bogdan ruled in a case in which the ministry was a party.
As a result, the Judicial Inspectorate began disciplinary proceedings against her in 2016. The Judicial Inspectorate found it problematic that the ministerial department which paid the applicant an expert fee was later a party in a court case presided over by her.
In the view of the Judicial Inspectorate, the judge should have taken a formal leave of absence for the duration of the training course.
Ms. Bogdan unsuccessfully tried to challenge the disciplinary proceedings on the grounds that the training in question had been an (admissible) educational activity.
The Supreme Council of Magistrates however decided to suspend the applicant from office.
In a case filed by Judge Bogdan, the Supreme Court later ruled to terminate the suspension and instead transfer her to the Court of Appeal in Târgu-Mureș about 400 kilometers from Bucharest where her previous post was.
European Court of Justice ruling hailed in Romania as a boost for judicial independence