Laura Codruta Kovesi has taken the Romanian government to the European Court of Human Rights to appeal her dismissal as head of the National Anti-corruption Directorate last year.
In the appeal, which was submitted at the end of December, she claims that her rights to a defence, a fair trial, and an appeal were violated when she was fired from her position. Kovesi was let go in July, following a Constitutional Court decision upholding the Interior Ministry’s complaints about her methods for pursuing individuals suspected of corruption.
The Court’s decision eventually compelled President Klaus Iohannis to sign-off on her dismissal despite his strong objection, and his support for Kovesi’s anti-corruption drive.
In a statement to Romanian media about her reasons for launching an appeal Kovesi said she is not looking to be reinstated to her old job or for any financial compensation. “It is a matter of principle,” she said.
“I asked the ECHR to find that fundamental rights had been violated in order to stop in the future the application of an abusive procedure for the dismissal of senior prosecutors. It’s not about money….We have not requested payment of damages, but we are talking about a matter of principle. I asked the ECHR to find that some fundamental rights, such as the right to a fair trial, the rights to a defence, the right to an effective remedy, were violated in this revocation procedure,” Kovesi said on Wednesday about the ECHR complaint.
Romania’s Social-Democrat-led government has been pushing to relax the fight against corruption ever since it won legislative elections in December 2016, accusing anti-graft prosecutors of abusing their power to target its politicians.
Several law changes to decriminalise or pardon corruption-related offences have led to mass protests.
Since Kovesi’s firing, no permanent replacement has been found for the position of Chief Prosecutor at the DNA. The candidate selected by justice minister Tudorel Toader for was rejected twice by president Klaus Iohannis. On Tuesday Anca Jurma stepped down as the DNA’s acting director, citing a lack of courage among prosecutors to pursue cases.