Romanian president Klaus Iohannis has issued the decree to remove the country’s top anti-corruption prosecutor on July 9, ending a months-long stand-off with the social-democrat government.
Iohannis had previously declined to sign the decree, saying that the justice ministry’s arguments for removing Laura Kovesi, head of the national anti-corruption prosecution DNA, had failed to persuade him.
The ministry began the dismissal proceedings in February, claiming that Kovesi had ovestepped her authority, damaging Romania’s image abroad in the process.
Kovesi’s defenders have dismissed such claims as just a pretext, saying that the real motivation was retaliation for DNA’s relentless pursuit of high-profile cases, including prominent politicians in the ruling coalition, and an attempt to blunt future investigations.
After Iohannis’s refusal to dismiss Kovesi, the government asked for a ruling from the constitutional court on the issue, while the ruling coalition raised the prospect of impeaching the president.
The constitutional court ruled that Iohannis did not have the discretionary power to question Kovesi’s dismissal and had to issue the decree. The president’s office said that Iohannis remained committed to the rule of law and his decree to fire Kovesi was following the directive set by the constitutional court’s ruling.
But he also said that the fight against corruption should not “be abandoned or slowed down” and that the anti-corruption prosecution had the duty to continue its activity “at the highest level of performance” regardless of the name of its chief.
(Klaus Iohannis photo: pnl.ro)