Romania’s New Anti-Graft Prosecutors Blocked

Romania’s anti-graft drive risks delays after the business of naming new heads for the country’s main anti-corruption institutions hit an obstacle.Romania’s Superior Council of Magistrates, CSM, on Thursday rejected ministerial nominations for the posts of Chief Prosecutor and head of the National Anti-Corruptin Directorate, the DNA.

The CSM, tasked with defending the professional reputation of magistrates and protecting their independence and impartiality, said the two proposed prosecutors do not have enough experience or a clear anti-corruption plan.

Tiberiu Nitu, 41, a former first-deputy prosecutor general until late last year, was nominated by the Justice Minister, Mona Pivniceru, as chief prosecutor. Ioan Irimie, 58, was to be the new head of the DNA.

The CSM vote was consultative, leaving President Traian Basescu to make the final decision.

There was no official reaction from the Justice Minister, but media reports said Pivniceru was likely to drop her current proposals and nominate two others.

The nominations are widely seen as posing an important test of the government’s seriousness in clamping down on corruption.

Analysts say the future prosecutors must continue the anti-corruption drive and energetically support the independence of the courts.

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.

It 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.

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