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Gov't move towards dismantling SIIJ comes under fire

Inquam Photos/ George Călin
Marcel Ciolacu

Acting Chairman of the Social Democratic Party (PSD), Marcel Ciolacu, said on Friday that the proposal to dismantle the Section for the Investigation of Criminal Offences in the Judiciary (SIIJ) is outrageous in the current context. 

"Even a discussion about the tentative abolition of the special Section is outrageous in the current context, when we see every day the misdeeds and abuses committed in the judiciary. Does the Tandarei case ring a bell with you, Mr. Orban? But how about the Rompetrol case, or the 'Hydra' scrap iron case?," Ciolacu wrote on Facebook, citing several cases branched out into the upper business and political echelons that have been buried by the judiciary in the past 15 years. 

The PSD leader argues that any debate on this subject should take place only in Parliament and by consultation of the magistrates' associations and all stakeholder institutions. 

"The Romanian people has had its say via referendum that the justice laws should no longer be modified by OUG. Any debate on this subject should only take place in Parliament and by consultation of the magistrates' associations and all stakeholder institutions (the Supreme Council of Magistrates - CSM, prosecutor's offices, courts), because the independence of the magistrates is vital for a fair judiciary," the PSD acting Chairman wrote. 

President of the Timis Tribunal, Adriana Stoicescu, also took to Facebook to state that what is really at play in the move to abolish the Section for the Investigation of Criminal Offences in the Judiciary is the attempt "to bury for good the abuses committed against uncomfortable magistrates". 

Adriana Stoicescu points out that the right to an impartial justice has been violated for years now, given that the prosecutors with powers to investigate magistrates can at the same time be parties in the cases under trial. 

"In a country where people have come to only trust the Tooth Fairy and where the elders' judgment panel will soon become an option, no one is talking about what is really at stake with the abolition of the special Section. That of burying for good the abuses committed against the uncomfortable magistrates, and perhaps start it all over again. Between politics-suffused cries and opinions issued over a drink, no professional has come out to explain the implications of vesting with the power to investigate magistrates prosecutors who, at the same time, are parties in the respective lawsuits. No mention of the years-long flagrant violation of the right to an impartial and independent judiciary. How fair can a judge be knowing that the session prosecutor might start criminal prosecution against him right the next day, based on a denunciation by a convict who the said judge has sent behind bars with good reason? How unbiased can one claim to be when the threat of a criminal prosecution case against the too independent judges may be looming for years?," Adriana Stoicescu wrote. 

Professing her support for the independence and impartiality of judges, she argues that for more than 20 years justice has been "the subject of the dirty bargaining" of political parties, and that politicians want the continuation of the anti-corruption fight "on paper only". 

"The fact that there are people who haven't even read the report of the Judicial Inspection, but strongly support the dismantling of the special Section shows how superficial our thinking is. The politicians don't seem to understand that the independence and impartiality of the judges are more important than petty vanities and must remain above political deals and lies, and backstage games. We wouldn't have ended here, hadn't justice been the subject of dirty bargaining by all the political parties for more than 20 years now. What could one expect when the appointment of high-ranking prosecutors was by the principle 'one from my camp, one from yours'. Anyone who imagines that by abolishing the special Section the politicians are seeking to defend the independence of the magistrates is deeply mistaken. All they want is to continue the fight against corruption on paper only, targeted only against their political opponents, with the broad support of judges reduced to silence," the Timis Tribunal president argues. 

Adriana Stoicescu adds that the next step after the dissolution of the SIIJ "will be the dismantling of the Judicial Inspection". 

"Because no one will have the time to think about justice and law enforcement, about fairness. We will be busy handing down custom-tailored decisions, meant to provide us peace and freedom. The next step will be the dismantling of the Judicial Inspection, the return to the judicial inspectors of the Justice Ministry, the people's courts led by the cronies of the establishment. All this with the broad support of those who don't read and do politics, although they should be reading and not doing politics. Good night, democracy and rule of law!," Stoicescu concludes.

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