Laura Codruţa Kovesi risks losing the office of chief European Prosecutor after losing a court case against the Superior Council of Magistracy, according to a piece of fake news promoted in Romania. The news also contains a grain of truth: Kovesi did lose the court case against CSM.
NEWS: “Laura Codruţa Kovesi lost in court her level of professional qualification as high court prosecutor and was demoted to district court prosecutor. […] The Prosecutors’ department of the Supreme Court of Magistracy (CSM) decided in 2018 not to award her this level of qualification without a vacancy contest, just because she was Romania’s prosecutor general. Kovesi challenged CSM’s decision in court at the time and now she lost the trial irrevocably. The level of high court prosecutor was one of the requirements for being appointed chief prosecutor of the EPPO”, Antena3.ro writes.
NARRATIVE: Laura Codruţa Kovesi might be sacked from the helm of the EPPO.
BACKGROUND: Romania is expected to receive 29.2 billion Euro from the EU under its National Recovery and Resilience Plan (PNRR). The money will be invested in a number of sectors.
The funds could represent a temptation for certain interest groups who are accustomed to siphon money out of government contracts. Once of the missions of the European Public Prosecutor’s Office is to make sure to find the culprits and bring them to court wherever such irregularities occur.
The former head of the National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA), Laura Codruţa Kovesi, is highly disliked in various political and economic circles with a direct link to public money or European funds, including Dan Voiculescu, the owner of the Intact media group, and thus the de facto manager of Antena3, which launched this fake narrative. Voiculescu served time for corruption and is one of the champions of the media campaign targeting DNA and its chief, Laura Codruţa Kovesi.
The total value of the EU’s financial assistance under the Recovery and Resilience Mechanism stands at 672 billion Euro and “is aimed at boosting European economic recovery by supporting reforms and investments projects in Member States”.
PURPOSE: To discredit and smear the image of Laura Codruţa Kovesi and weaken her position at the helm of the EPPO.
WHY THE NARRATIVE IS FALSE: There is no connection between the professional qualifications Laura Codruţa Kovesi holds in Romania and the requirements for holding the office of chief EPPO prosecutor. The website of the European Council makes no such reference, but says, referring to the Romanian official’s appointment, that “Ms Kõvesi was selected from a shortlist of three candidates proposed by an independent selection panel and following an open call for applications”.
Furthermore, former Justice Minister, Stelian Ion, explained on a post on his Facebook page that Laura Kovesi will not be sacked as chief European Prosecutor.
“I’m sorry to ruin the mood of those who not long ago hailed the brutal intervention of the riot police against the crowd of protestors on August 10: Laura Codruța Kovesi won’t be dismissed. The court case in Romania regarding her professional qualification has nothing to do with the procedure for appointing her at the helm of the European Public Prosecutor’s Office. […] Not only will she not be sacked, but I am confident she will lead the EPPO in a very efficient manner and will expose top-level instances of fraud involving European funds, including in Romania. This is why they’re so afraid, this is why the wolves are out for blood. Especially as certain “crafty individuals” are rubbing their hands with excitement now that PNRR is up and running”, Stelian Ion wrote on his Facebook page.
The former Romanian official explained that the procedure for appointing the chief European Prosecutor does not stipulate candidates must hold the office of high court prosecutor, but merely that they meet the legal criteria for being appointed at the top of a prosecutor’s office.
Stelian Ion went on to explain that, after Laura Codruța Kovesi was dismissed from the helm of DNA, she won a court case at the ECHR against the Romanian state regarding the procedure employed to have her dismissed.
“Those who are now preparing to embezzle European money or who have skeletons in their closets must quickly change their plans or to pack their pyjamas and toothbrushes”, Stelian Ion concluded.
GRAIN OF TRUTH: The High Court of Cassation and Justice (ÎCCJ) ruled against the action taken by the former head of DNA, Laura Codruţa Kovesi, against the Superior Council of Magistracy over the recognition of her professional qualification as prosecutor with the High Court of Cassation and Justice (PÎCCJ).