"The National Anticorruption Department has 4804 corruption cases ongoing"

Translated by Cosmin Ghidoveanu
English Section /

"The National Anticorruption Department has 4804 corruption cases ongoing"

(Interview with General Prosecutor Augustin Lazăr)

General Prosecutor Augustin Lazăr was the center of attention around the middle of last week, when Justice minister Tudorel Toader started the procedure for the revocation of the head of the Public Prosecutor, following the evaluation he has decided at the end of August. The activity of Augustin Lazăr as part of the Public Ministry has made the minister of justice unhappy, through his statements about the stability of criminal legislation and his claims of supporting the rule of law, the defense of the judges' and prosecutors' independence. The Public Prosecutor manages the activity of all the prosecutors' offices in Romania. It is facing numerous problems and over the last few years some of its members claim it has been constantly subjected to increased pressure from politicians and dignitaries under criminal investigation.

Upon the request of BURSA, the general prosecutor Augustin Lazăr has answered some questions through the Office for Communication with the Press of the Public Prosecutor.

Reporter: How many cases of major corruption are on the docket of the prosecutors office you are in charge of? With the mention that when we're talking about major corruption, we mean the criminal cases which involve suspects or indictees that are MPs, ministers and other Romanian state officials.

Augustin Lazăr: In Semester I of 2018, from the National Anticorruption Department there were 4804 cases ongoing concerning crimes stipulated by the law No. 78/2000 for the prevention, discovery and sanctioning the deeds of corruption.

I want to mention that in the statistical forms, which have been under the use of the Public Prosecutor, starting with 2014, the supplied data does not classified based on the position of the individual (MPs, ministers, other dignitaries, judges, prosecutors etc.).

Reporter: How many cases concern the criminal investigation of some magistrates and what is the total number of judges and/or prosecutors that are criminally investigated?

Augustin Lazăr: I want to mention that the statistical forms which are being used by the Public Prosecutor do not include data concerning the number of cases which concern magistrates, only data concerning the number of defendants indicted that are magistrates, without them being distinguished by judges or prosecutors.

Reporter: What is the percentage of acquittals in the major corruption cases of last year and in the first nine months of 2018?

Augustin Lazăr: In 2017, the National Anticorruption Department saw the acquittal of 89 individuals and 1 company, which were acquitted definitively regardless of the period for indictment for the committing of offenses stipulated by the Law no. 78/2000 for the prevention, discovery and sanctioning of acts of corruption, and in the first semester of 2018 a number of 102 defendants definitively acquitted regardless of the delay for indictment.

Reporter: What was the budget of the General Prosecutors' Office this year? How much of it has been allocated for the compensation of the employees and what is the amount spent on evidence (evaluations, translators, surveillance, wiretapping of the suspects) raised in the criminal cases? If possible, we would like to know how much of that amount has been spent on the major corruption cases.

Augustin Lazăr: In the budget approved for the General Prosecutors' Office of the High Court of Cassation and Justice (PÎCCJ) in 2018, the State Budget allocated 99,028,000 lei. I want to mention that out of the total amount, 79,346,000 lei represent staff expenses, and 310,000 lei are expenses needed for the instrumentation of the criminal cases, being stipulated in art. 20.25 "Judicial and extrajudicial expenses derived from actions in the representation of the state's interests, according to the legal dispositions".

Reporter: Does the General Prosecutors' Office work has a complete staff or do you need more employees? If you do need more, how many and on what positions?

Augustin Lazăr: The total number of positions of prosecutor stipulated in the schedules is 2973 (of which 142 with the Prosecutors' Office of High Court of Cassation and Justice, 295 with the Department for the Investigation of Organized Crime and Terrorism (DIICOT), 195 - the National Anticorruption Department, the prosecutors working with the Courts of Appeal, county courts and district courts and the military prosecution offices - 93). The number of total filled positions- 2551, in the beginning of 2018, (of which 135 at the Prosecutors' Office of the High Court of Cassation and Justice, the Department for the Investigation of Organized Crime and Terrorism - 261, the National Anticorruption Department - 161, 1935 with the prosecutors' offices of the Courts of Appeal, county courts and district courts and 59 with the military prosecutors' offices). Since then, some of the prosecutors that met the legal requirements have retired and we are waiting for the new generation from the National Magistrates Institute to start working.

Reporter: Aside from the evaluation that you have recently been subjected to by the Ministry of Justice recently, what was the last evaluation of your activity and when did it take place?

Augustin Lazăr: For the 2011-2013 period, I have been evaluated during 2015 by the Commission for the Evaluation of the professional activity of prosecutors which are part of the evaluation commissions of the court of appeal prosecutors' offices and got the rating "Very good". During 2018, the same commission told the Supreme Council of Magistrates, under the conditions of art. 25 parag. 5 and parag. 13 of the Regulation concerning the evaluation of the professional activity of judges and prosecutors approved through the decision of the Plenum of the Supreme Council of Magistrates no. 676 of October 4th, 2007 with the amendments and completions which had been implemented by December 31st 2015, the evaluation dossier that was drawn up, the annual minutes for the years 2014 and 2015 and the statistical data. For the 2005 - 2010 period, as well as for the year 2018, data concerning the evaluation reports is available in my professional record, which is drawn up and kept by the Supreme Council of Magistrates.

Reporter: So I take that to mean that for the years 2015, 2016 and 2017 you have no independent evaluation reports.

Augustin Lazăr: I repeat: this data is included in the professional file of the Supreme Council of Magistrates.

Reporter: Thank you!

A CONSEMNAT GEORGE MARINESCU

Notă:

It bears mentioning that this interview was requested of the General Prosecutors before the Minister of Justice, Tudorel Toader announced the beginning of the procedure to dismiss Augustin Lazăr as general prosecutor. On November 13th, the Supreme Council of Magistrates will debate the request of the minister and issue the consultative opinion requested by the law. The decision will belong to president Klaus Iohannis, who has already decided that Tudorel Toader, the minister of Justice had conducted a biased evaluation of the general prosecutor. A new institutional conflict is shaping up, between the public authorities and we are waiting to see if the magistrates of the Constitutional Court makes the same decision in the case of Augustin Lazăr as it did in the case of Laura Codruţa Kovesi.

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