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Laura Codruta Kovesi: "DNA is not fabricating political files"

For the first time since its inception, Romania's National Anti-Corruption Directorate (DNA) has got indictments in more than 90 percent of the cases it built, DNA chief prosecutor Laura Codruta Kovesi said in Chisinau, Moldova, on Thursday. 

"This is far above the European average," Kovesi told a Moldova-Romania Justice Forum held in Chisinau. 

"Over the past five years, the percentage of acquittals in DNA cases has been somewhere between 10 and 12 percent. I dare say that is a natural percentage. I do not believe indictments in a democracy should be 100 percent," added Kovesi. 

She said that in 2006, 360 people were sent to stand trial, with the number surging to 937 in 2010 and to 1,258 in 2015. 

Among these sent to court in 2015, there was a prime minister, five ministers, 67 MPs and 5 senators, 97 mayors and deputies, 15 county council chairs and deputies, as well as 32 directors of national corporations, Kovesi told the forum themed "Justice reform and the fight against corruption from a European perspective." 

In 2006, 155 defendants were sentenced under final rulings, with the number having varied to 154 in 2010 and 973 in 2015. 

Kovesi mentioned "the part played by the Supreme Court of Justice and Cassation particularly in finding fast-tracking solutions for cases." 

"Five years ago, some court cases would take seven, eight or ten years to close. That was not because of incompetence of prosecutors or judges, but of legislation loopholes that very would be used and abused by defendants, and rightfully so, because that was a legal defence tactic on the part of the defendants. There is no criticising that," added Kovesi. 

On the other hand, she warned that current challenges facing DNA include immunity regime, keeping institutional stability, legislative framework as well as investigative instruments.

 "DNA is not fabricating political files," head of Romania's the National Anti-corruption Directorate (DNA), Laura Codruta Kovesi said. She added that the investigations by the anti-corruption prosecutors have in view the deeds of the persons in public positions, not their quality as politicians. 

"There were years when DNA was accused - and I hope that on this occasion I shall debunk a myth - namely that DNA is fabricating political cases. I could tell you that among the persons which immunity we asked to be lifted or were investigated and sent to court, are people who were part of almost all political parties of Romania. The important thing is that we are not investigating politicians. We don't care whether a politician belongs to a party or do politics. We investigate public office holders," said Kovesi. 

She stressed that the DNA independence could be confirmed through the high number of dignitaries whose immunity were lifted, including MPs and senators, ministers or prime ministers. 

In 2015, DNA asked for six MPs, one senator and a judge with the Constitutional Court to have their immunity lifted. 

On the other hand, the DNA head specified that one of her agency's priorities is to impound illegal fortunes. 

"From where I stand, I believe that any solution of indictment lacks efficiency if at the same time we fail to recover the damage to the national budget or cannot confiscate the fortunes of the people who have got rich illicitly. That is why this has been a priority lately,' added Kovesi at the forum. 

She stressed that reality has confirmed that in many situations "the person prosecuted rather accepts to go to jail, to be deprived of freedom than to have their fortune impounded." 

Kovesi said should the state be able to realise ill-gotten assets under liens, the Government's revenue would exceed 500 million euros.