Romania: Ruling on intelligence pact puts trials in doubt
BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — Romania’s Constitutional Court on Wednesday ruled that secret protocols between prosecutors and the country’s domestic intelligence agency were unconstitutional.
The decision, reached in a 6-3 vote, could cause murder and corruption trials in which prosecutors have relied on evidence that was obtained under the agreement to collapse.
The General Prosecutor’s office and the Romanian Intelligence Service signed the protocols in 2009 and 2016. Prosecutors declassified them last year.
The ruling is a victory for Romania’s government, which regularly criticizes anti-corruption prosecutors. Government officials have compared the surveillance of graft suspects that resulted from the protocols to the activities of Romania’s communist-era secret police.
But critics claim the government is trying to protect corrupt officials and thwart the anti-corruption fight.
Lucian Stanciu-Viziteu, a lawmaker for the opposition Save Romanian Union, said the ruling would protect criminals and officials such as Social Democrat chairman Liviu Dragnea who was convicted of vote-rigging in 2016. Dragnea is appealing a 2018 conviction for official misconduct and is also charged with defrauding EU funds. He denies wrongdoing.
“Today’s ruling destroys Romania’s anti-corruption fight,” he said, accusing the court of “transforming itself into a super-court which cancels other court rulings.”
Anti-corruption prosecutors have argued they cooperated with the intelligence service because they lacked the expertise and funds to carry out complex surveillance operations.