Romania: Prosecutor General under investigation
The Romanian Minister of Justice Tudorel Toader announced an investigation into the activities of Prosecutor General Agustin Lazăr on the weekend. The press sees parallels with the removal from office of anti-corruption authority director Laura Codruța Kövesi and criticises the move as another assault on the judiciary.
A repeat of the Kövesi affair
Following the removal from office of DNA chief Laura Codruta Kövesi the government now wants to destroy the last bastion of a functioning separation of powers with its attack against Lazăr, Adevărul fears:
“The Prosecutor General is the last remaining vehement defender of an independent judiciary. ... The toxic web of interests that has plundered Romania over all these years now wants to take control of the judiciary. After the DNA and the DIICOT [Directorate for Investigating Organized Crime and Terrorism], the Prosecutor's Office attached to the highest court in the country is now being targeted. Once this is under political control the Securitate mafia will be able to operate with complete impunity.”
Lazăr a thorn in the government's side
The official reason given for the investigation against the Prosecutor General is a protocol on wiretapping operations signed between the Prosecutor General's Office and the Romanian Intelligence Service. The true reason, however, is that the government wants to get rid of Lazăr, Radio Europa Liberă suspects:
“After all, the 'assessment' of the Prosecutor General's activities is being conducted against the backdrop of the investigations against the officials who were responsible for the repression of the protest of 10 August 2018. Augustin Lazăr has become increasingly awkward for the current government since he defended [former DNA chief] Codruța Kövesi, criticised the judicial reforms and announced investigations to find those responsible for the injuries suffered by peaceful demonstrators at the diaspora protest.”