Kovesi saves Ursula von der Leyen's election campaign

George Marinescu
English Section / 24 mai

Kovesi saves Ursula von der Leyen's election campaign

Versiunea în limba română

At the request of the European Public Prosecutor's Office, an institution led by Laura Codruţa Kovesi, which assumed - despite the Belgian criminal legislation - the competence to resolve the criminal complaint submitted by Frederic Baldan to the Liege court, the investigating judge postponed the hearing of the parties until December 6 2024

Laura Codruţa Kovesi jumped into Ursula von der Leyen's boat, just when the president of the European Commission needed it the most: in the current election campaign for the European Parliament elections, which will take place in the EU member states from June 6-9, and for which von der Leyen is the spitzenkandidatin (head of the list) to renew his mandate at the head of the Community Executive. A week ago, while Ursula von der Leyen was in Luxembourg, where - coincidence! - the seat of the European Public Prosecutor's Office is also located, the EPPO issued a press release in which it assumed jurisdiction over the criminal complaint filed by the Belgian lobbyist Frederic Baldan at the Liege court. The takeover was on the same day as hearings of the parties in the Pfizergate case were to take place, leading to a postponement of the scheduled hearing, so we wonder if the EPPO's move was a spontaneous one or a thought-out, premeditated one to benefit Ursula von der Leyen.

Following the EPPO's request, the Belgian investigative judge decided on Friday, May 17, to postpone to December 6, 2024 the hearing of the parties in the Pfizergate file in which Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, is accused by Frederic Baldan and several parties of the illegal negotiation in order to purchase 1.8 billion doses of the Covid-19 vaccine from Pfizer. After the hearing was adjourned, both sides claimed victory: the plaintiffs see the decision as a sign that the judge is taking the case seriously, while von der Leyen's lawyer said the decision was against the plaintiffs' demands. According to Follow the Money, one of the Polish lawyers sent by the Tusk government to request the withdrawal of Poland's accession to Baldan's complaint said: "The democratic debate on the mistakes that were made in this vaccine procurement could not take place in European Parliament. Now it will have to take place before the competent courts".

According to France Soir, in the press conference they held following the postponement of the hearing, Frederic Baldan and his lawyer, Diane Protat, showed that the European Public Prosecutor's Office led by Laura Codruţa Kovesi is playing an obscure game in the Pfizergate file, trying to monopolize the competence solution, which it obviously does not have, with the support of its allies in the European media. Frederic Baldan expressed concern about the protection given to Ursula von der Leyen despite her involvement in negotiating controversial contracts without rights or titles. He calls for measures to ensure the integrity of the investigation and emphasizes the importance of an ethical and transparent approach to judicial matters to promote the rule of law.

Regarding what happened last Friday at the preliminary Chamber of the Court of Liege, the journalists of the two mentioned sources also state that on the day when the hearing should have taken place, Ursula von der Leyen was in Luxembourg (ed. - exactly where the headquarters of the European Public Prosecutor's Office is located) and that no Belgian prosecutor was present in court to guarantee the victims the exercise of their fundamental rights.

So on May 17, the day the hearings were postponed, the day Ursula von der Leyen was in Luxembourg, the European Public Prosecutor's Office issued a press release stating:

"In 2023, several private parties filed similar complaints with an investigative judge in Liège (Belgium). In May 2023, as required by the Belgian criminal procedure, the Liège Regional Prosecutor's Office transferred a copy of the complaints submitted to the investigating judge to the EPPO. The EPPO concluded that the complaints related to facts falling within its substantive competence. It is therefore now up to the EPPO, as the competent public prosecutor's office, to take a position on the legality of the complaints submitted to the investigating judge in Liège, and for the Court (Chambre du Conseil) to decide on this. This is the subject of today's scheduled hearing. The court adjourns the case to December 6, 2024.

On this occasion, the EPPO would like to make the following clarifications:

According to Belgian criminal procedure, an investigating judge has jurisdiction to investigate (alleged) crimes if the crimes are committed in the territory under his jurisdiction or if the suspect resides in this territory, including crimes falling under the jurisdiction of the EPPO. According to Belgian criminal procedure, when an investigating judge is involved, the European Delegated Prosecutors should cooperate with seven designated investigating judges, in accordance with their territorial competence. However, the EPPO has consistently drawn the European Commission's attention to the Belgian criminal procedure's apparent non-compliance with the EPPO Regulation, involving an investigating judge conducting a full investigation with full investigative powers. In accordance with applicable EU law, the EPPO is competent to investigate, prosecute and prosecute perpetrators of crimes affecting the EU budget. One of the consequences of not complying with European law is that there are now separate proceedings pending before different judicial bodies for complaints arising from the same set of facts."

Following this statement issued by the European Public Prosecutor's Office, Belgian and French journalists state that the decision of the institution led by Laura Codruţa Kovesi is abusive and that, in order to receive jurisdiction over Frederic Baldan's complaint, the EPPO needs to amend the Belgian criminal legislation, which has not yet been it happened.

Under these conditions, the response received by the European Public Prosecutor's Office from the European Commission at the beginning of April - when Kovesi threatened the Commission with the European court regarding the EPPO budget -, a response in which it was specified that the Community Executive will not let the EPPO face financial difficulties regarding the operation of the IT system and will find a solution to secure the financing of 5 million euros, takes on a new meaning: one hand washes the other. With her back against the wall in the case of Liege, von der Leyen tries to improve Kovesi and make her an ally. It seems that so far he has succeeded, if we take into account the postponement dictated by the Belgian judge until December 6.

However, von der Leyen's problems could be exacerbated if the companies Will Moderna, Janssen and Astra Zeneca join Frederic Baldan's complaint of discrimination because they did not receive text messages from Ursula von der Leyen, as received during the negotiation the CEO of Pfizer, Albert Bourla. Asked by France Soir if they would join the complaint, because Ursula von der Leyen violated equality in the awarding of public contracts through her attitude, the three big companies have not yet given an answer.