The U.S. Ambassador to Romania, Adrian Zuckerman, has hailed a European court ruling that said Romania’s former anti-graft chief was wrongly dismissed.
The decision from the European Court of Human Rights on Tuesday “reemphasizes the paramount import of the rule of law in a democracy,” Zuckerman said.
“Without recourse to a free and independent judiciary there is no freedom or democratic process,” he said in a statement Tuesday.
The European Court of Human Rights ruled on Tuesday that Laura Codruta Kovesi was wrongly terminated as the head of the Anti-corruption Directorate without having a chance to defend herself.
During her five years at the helm, the office secured the convictions of mayors, lawmakers and ministers and a European Parliament lawmaker, earning praise at home and abroad.
But her anti-corruption was unpopular with the then-Social Democratic government who engineered her ouster, months before the end of her tenure. The move was criticized and served to cement Kovesi’s reputation as a fearless anti-corruption fighter.
The ambassador said “Ms. Kovesi’s fundamental rights were infringed upon,” adding that “free access to justice and freedom of expression are essential values of a democratic society.”
“This decision is an admonition against political interference in judicial matters to avoid criminal prosecution. The United States will always support the principles of democracy, fundamental human rights and the rule of law.”
President Klaus Iohannis, who fired Kovesi on orders of Romania’s Constitutional Court, said Tuesday “the credibility of the Constitutional Court, already affected by some controversial decisions over the past few years, is now even more seriously shaken.”
.Kovesi received the U.S. Embassy’s Woman of Courage award in 2014. Tuesday’s statement said she “exemplifies the values of courage, justice and honor.”
In October 2019, she Kovesi was appointed to head the European Public Prosecutor’s Office.
Its main task will be to investigate fraud connected to the use of EU funds and other financial crimes.