Romania’s anti-corruption chief has slammed what she called ‘unbelievable attacks’ on attempts to rid the country of graft.
Laura Kovesi told Euronews that politicians and businessmen are kicking back against a drive to clean up one the EU’s most corrupt countries.
It comes as MPs debate a draft law that could put Romania’s judicial system under political control.
The plan has sparked street protests and has been criticised by magistrates and the country’s president, Klaus Iohannis.
“If voted through it will have a serious negative impact on the independence of justice and it will result in political control of prosecutors’ activity,” said Kovesi, head of Romania’s anti-corruption directorate (DNA).
“It will lead to the political subordination of the prosecutors and could seriously obstruct the anti-corruption fight.
“In my view the independence of justice is not a privilege for the magistrate - it is a fundamental principle in a democratic society.
“Only an independent justice as a system can ensure a fair trial; only an independent justice can enforce the law equally for everyone.”
The DNA says since 2013 it has sent 68 officials to trial over corruption, including one prime minister, two deputy PMs, 11 ministers and 39 MPs.
Kovesi said an independent judiciary had been key in getting nearly half of these officials convicted.
“DNA’s investigations have been received with a lot of hope and trust by our society,” she added.
“It is also true that they have mobilised an entire system formed of politicians and businessmen who feel threatened and who are interested in maintaining their control over the public resources.
“This is why the entire justice system has faced unbelievable attacks, from fake news to hiring companies specialised in intimidation and harassment.”
A press spokesperson for the Romanian government said there were no provisions in the draft law that would see justice under state control.
The statement added: “The fight against corruption is an objective of criminal policy assumed by the Romanian state.”