Romanian govt move against prosecutors draws criticism

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — Romania’s government passed an emergency ordinance Monday requiring prosecutors in key agencies to have more years of experience — a move that prosecutors say would hamper current investigations and force some anti-corruption prosecutors from their jobs.

The move came on the same day that Justice Minister Tudorel Toader nominated a candidate to be the country’s next chief anti-corruption prosecutor who a Romanian judicial body said was unfit for the job.

Toader said chief prosecutors for the anti-corruption agency and the agency that investigates organized crime will need a minimum of 15 years’ experience, almost double the current requirement. Regular prosecutors at the agencies will need at least 10 years on the job, up from eight years.

Analysts said some prosecutors will lose their jobs under the new regulation.

General Prosecutor Augustin Lazar said the measure would hamper many ongoing investigations, including a probe into Romania’s bloody 1989 anti-communist revolution and an investigation into the police’s response to an anti-corruption protest in August, which left 450 people needing medical treatment.

“It’s difficult to see how these cases will be finalized,” Lazar said, adding disrupting prosecutions could lead to the European Court of Human Rights making judgments against Romania.

The Public Ministry, which has authority over Romania’s courts and prosecutors’ offices, also criticized the measure, saying that it risked “blocking (prosecutions) and making it impossible to finalize very important cases.”

U.S. Ambassador Hans G. Klemm recently said Romania’s justice system was being “dismantled” by lawmakers with “vested interests. The justice system remains under special monitoring by the European Union since corruption has been a long-running issue in the country.

Premier Viorica Dancila praised the ordinance by her government, claiming it would make the justice system more efficient

In a related development, Toader on Monday officially nominated Adina Florea as his choice for Romania’s next anti-corruption chief prosecutor.

Last week, the Superior Council of Magistrates said she was unsuitable because she was “submissive,” handled stress badly and had problems with “honesty and impartiality.”

President Klaus Iohannis, a supporter of the fight against corruption, needs to approve her nomination.

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