Romanian anti-graft prosecutor called to answer charges

February 26, 2018
FILE - In this file photo dated Tuesday, June 7, 2016, Romania's chief anti-corruption prosecutor Laura Codruta Kovesi speaks during an interview with the Associated Press in Bucharest, Romania. Romania's justice minister Tudorel Toader says there are serious concerns about the way Laura Codruta Kovesi does her job and she will be asked to answer accusations, which Kovesi denies. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda, FILE)

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — Romania’s top legal body on Monday summoned the chief anti-corruption prosecutor to answer charges made by the justice minister, who wants her ousted over what he says are serious concerns about the way she does her job.

National Anti-Corruption Directorate Chief Prosecutor Laura Codruta Kovesi will be asked to respond Tuesday to a 20-point report made by Justice Minister Tudorel Toader last week, the Council of Supreme Magistrates said.

Toader has claimed that Kovesi has “deformed reality” about Romania and its rule of law in interviews with the foreign media. He also said she displayed an “excessively authoritarian attitude” by personally supervising prosecutors investigating a contentious decree that would have decriminalized official misconduct.

The minister also claimed Kovesi strove to convict senior officials “at any price,” and the office favored prosecutions with a high media impact.

Kovesi, who has held the post since 2013, denies the accusations. There are fears that her removal would disrupt the fight against graft.

Under her leadership, the agency has successfully prosecuted lawmakers, ministers and other top officials for bribery, fraud, abuse of power and other corruption-related offenses.

President Klaus Iohannis, a government critic, who has the final word on whether to remove her, has reiterated his support for Kovesi in recent days.

The leader of the ruling Social Democracy Party, Liviu Dragnea, on Monday denied reports that his party would impeach Iohannis if Kovesi was retained, a move that would lead to political instability.

The European Union keeps Romania’s justice system under special monitoring. Romania ranks as one of the bloc’s most corrupt countries.

Last year, the ruling Social Democratic Party tried to decriminalize several corruption offenses, triggering the largest street protests in Romania since communism ended.

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