As the Justice Minister names new bosses for the country’s two main anti-corruption institutions, experts react cautiously, saying they will wait to see how they act.Romania’s Justice Minister, Mona Pivniceru, on Thursday announced nominations for the posts of Chief Prosecutor and head of the National Anti-Corruption Directorate, the DNA.
Tiberiu Nitu, 41, a former first-deputy prosecutor general until the end of last year, is to become chief prosecutor, while Ioan Irimie, 58, will become the DNA head.
“They are the best choices for these posts. Their vision about how the institutions should be organized, but also their motivation, conduct and integrity were the main criteria when choosing them,” Pivniceru said.
The proposals for the posts will be sent to the Superior Council of Magistracy, CSM, which is tasked with defending the professional reputation of magistrates and protecting them from interference to their independence and impartiality.
The CSM has 60 days to issue a consultative go-ahead to the minister’s proposals after which President Traian Basescu will make the final decision.
The new nominations are widely seen as posing an important test of the government’s seriousness in clamping down on corruption.
“It is critical that persons appointed to these high offices enjoy the full support of all the major parties,” US ambassador Mark Gitenstein said on Wednesday.
“They must be… independent, apolitical and, above all, as competent and courageous as their predecessors,” he added.
“For the United States, this selection process will be a very important criterion that will affect how we judge our strategic relationship with Romania.”
Analyst reacted with caution to the proposals. “We have to wait for them to be officially installed… as they are almost unknown to the general public, we have to wait to see if they are keen to continue anti-corruption drive and eager to support the independence of the courts in Romania,” journalist Bogdan Ficeac said.
Romania is still considered one of the most corrupt states in the European Union and has made only limited progress in fighting graft and organised crime since it joined the EU in 2007.
Romania has drawn repeated criticism from the European Commission for its failure to tackle the problem.
But in recent months, the number of high-ranking officials sentenced for graft has increased significantly. Eleven top officials were sent to jail since 2010, according to DNA data, including former Prime Minister Adrian Nastase and some other ex-ministers.
Twenty-six mayors and prefects, 24 magistrates and 164 policemen have also been sent to jail, official figures show.
By comparison, no member of government or lawmaker was convicted of corruption between 2002 and 2009.