Posted on Sep 20, 2019
The former head of Romania’s anti-corruption unit will become the European Union’s first public prosecutor after a secret ballot of European ambassadors, a move that will surprise, and alarm, many.
Laura Kovesi, who was sacked by Presidential decree in July 2018 from her role as head of the country's National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA), was chosen as the first head of the European Public Prosecutor's Office at a meeting in Brussels.
Romania’s government had vehemently opposed Kovesi’s appointment and the Romanian ambassador was mandated to vote against her appointment.
Kovesi made headlines in the summer of 2017, when an audio recording emerged in which Ms. Kovesi could be heard commanding her employees to pursue investigations against the Prime Minister and his cabinet colleagues.
She was heard using the phrase “put pressure” with reference to the government in retaliation for their efforts to limit her authority. More recordings surfaced.
She was allegedly implicated in attempts by two senior DNA prosecutors in 2015 to force a witness to fabricate evidence in the case against Sebastian Ghita, a former MP who fled Romania the following year. According to the witness, prosecutors threatened to target his family unless he co-operated and claimed that they were acting with the approval of their superiors, including Kovesi.
Tudorel Toader, Romania’s Minister of Justice, wrote to his counterparts from other EU countries to oppose her nomination. He explained that his opposition was based upon Ms Kovesi’s alleged role and accountability following revelations of a number of "secret protocols" between Romanian security services and the judiciary, and the way that those protocols are said to undermine democratic freedoms and norms. Mr Toader referenced in his letter comments made by a European Commissioner calling for an investigation into the protocols.
The EU aims to set up the European Public Prosecutor’s Office next year to tackle graft, VAT fraud and other crimes involving the bloc’s multi-billion-euro joint budget. Twenty-two EU countries have signed up to the project.
The EU Council will hold a formal vote in the coming weeks which is expected to confirm Kovesi's appointment.
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