Romanians Cheer Ex-Prosecutor Battling Corruption Charges

Romanians gathered on Friday in front of the prosecutor’s office in Bucharest to show support for Laura Codruta Kovesi, the former head of the country’s anti-corruption agency, who is one of the top candidates for the post of the European Union’s first public prosecutor.

Scores of supporters brought flowers and cheered for Kovesi as she arrived at a hearing where prosecutors had summoned here as a suspect in a corruption case.



Despite drawing praise from both EU and foreign diplomats for hundreds of corruption sentences pronounced during her five years as head of Romania’s National Anti-Corruption Directorate, the Social Democrat-led government in Bucharest openly opposes her bid. A new government agency, the Department for the Investigation of Criminal Offences in the Judiciary, tasked with investigating magistrates for graft, summoned Kovesi as a suspect on Friday, the same day she was scheduled for an interview in Brussels.

Days after an EU selection commission revealed that Kovesi was the top candidate for EU public prosecutor’s post, the investigation agency summoned her for the hearing, following a complaint filed by the fugitive IT tycoon Sebastian Ghita, who has obtained political asylum in neighboring Serbia. He told Romanian media on Thursday that Kovesi had been a guest in his house several times and accused her of taking bribes. Ghita is a suspect in several corruption cases and took refuge in Belgrade under a false identity in December 2016.

Kovesi told the media on Wednesday that she was innocent and would not give up on her bid for the post of EU prosecutor.

“I was subjected to a libel campaign in the past few days, probably generated by some people’s desperation that I was evaluated as the top candidate for EU chief-prosecutor,” she said.

The controversy in Bucharest over Kovesi running for the EU post has also drawn support from several EU politicians and the US State Department. The European Commission also warned on Thursday that prosecutors applying for the post of European chief prosecutor must be treated fairly.

Kovesi took a plane to Brussels after the hearing.


15 February 2019

Balkan Insight

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