It’s cold and snowy right now in Romania, but yesterday, former DNA (the anti-corruption bureau) chief Laura Codruta Kovesi decided to give an impromptu press conference to two different television channels outside the ICCJ (court) where she works.
The former head of Romania’s anti-corruption unit has filed a lawsuit against Romania’s government at the European Court of Human Rights for dismissing her without the possibility of defense.
Kovesi said she did not seek compensation and doesn’t want her old job back. “It’s a matter of principle,” she said.
The court in Strasbourg received the complaint at the end of 2018, some two weeks before the six-month deadline for such procedures expired.
Everything about this is really weird.
First, Kovesi was fired on July 9, 2018, after the Constitutional Court (effectively the Supreme Court) ruled that the Justice Minister had the power to fire the head of the DNA.
President Iohannis then signed the papers to release Kovesi from the DNA job, and she went to work at the Parchetul General or the prosecutor’s office of the ICCJ court.
A whole bunch of other drama then occurred with the DNA, but Kovesi more or less disappeared from public view.
Therefore, Kovesi’s surprise announcement about filing a lawsuit at the ECHR against Romania caused quite a sensation yesterday.
But what really happened?
The European Court of Human Rights, just as you might guess from its name, is designed to protect human rights. But how did Kovesi’s human rights get allegedly violated?
The Constitutional Court of Romania (CCR) ruled on whether or not the President or the Justice Minister had the power to fire the DNA chief. It had nothing to do with Kovesi personally, and she isn’t alleging any physical abuse or something else akin to a violation of human rights.
Her main argument, if one can call it that, is that she wanted to “defend herself” at the CCR but wasn’t allowed to.
Look, I’m not a lawyer, but it doesn’t seem like this had anything to do with Kovesi’s personal rights. The CCR, as per its mandate, ruled on what the Constitution says. Does the Constitution give powers over the DNA to the President or to the Justice Ministry? That’s what their ruling was about.
Some people allege that the CCR’s decision was politically motivated, but the fact remains that the CCR was ruling on a Constitutional issue, exactly what the CCR is supposed to do.
I really can’t see how the ECHR would have any jurisdiction here. And an old legal hand like Kovesi would know that.
There’s also a little confusion about the dates. Kovesi was fired on July 9, 2018, and the ECHR rules state that a complaint must be filed within six months of the alleged violation. This means that Kovesi had until January 9, 2019, to file the complaint.
According to what she said, she filed her ECHR complaint “in December” (no specific day given). Why December and not earlier? Or why not wait until January? I don’t know.
Some news reports say that she filed her ECHR complaint “two weeks ago” which would make it right around Christmas time. Why wait all summer to file a complaint during Christmas? Again, I just don’t know.
And why did Kovesi tell the news media about her ECHR complaint outside in the cold and snow instead of in her office (or somewhere else)?
Why wasn’t an official press conference held? Did she pick January 9 because it was the six-month “anniversary” of her firing, or was that just coincidence?
And why does Kovesi supposedly not want either for the ECHR to give her her old job back or award her any money? That doesn’t make a lot of sense. What then, could the ECHR even do for her?
Much of the Romanian news media was confused, too.
“… la măsurile disciplinare dispuse de ministrul justiției și decise de Curtea Constituțională printr-o decizie definitivă, fără cale de atac”, se arată într-un răspuns al Laurei Codruța Kovesi, transmis de biroul de presă al Parchetului General.
In case your Romania’s a little rusty, that last line says “…Kovesi said in a statement released by the press office of the Prosecutor’s Office.”
But there was no statement released by the Prosecutor’s Office. Well, there was, but it was about something completely different. In fact, Kovesi’s office has never published or released anything about her ECHR complaint.
I’ve seen the video footage of Kovesi talking to Digi24 and Realitatea TV channels, which seems to be the only source of information about this alleged ECHR filing. I have not seen any written statement released by her office or her personally.
All of the above is just some interesting and idle speculation, but I wanted to see the filing for myself. I wanted to know exactly what Kovesi was alleging, especially the parts about how her personal rights were allegedly violated.
The only problem is, when I went to the ECHR website, I couldn’t find anything.
I’ve done plenty of research on the ECHR website for other stories before, so I know how to use the system (as well as the companion site HUDOC). Yet I couldn’t find anything about Kovesi or a new complaint being filed against Romania by anyone in December 2018.
I expanded my search to look through all of 2018 and January 2019 just to be thorough, and I’ve come up snake eyes every time. I just can’t find Kovesi’s complaint, if it does indeed exist.
I also trawled through about a hundred other news reports on Kovesi’s January 9 shock announcement, and not a single one referenced the case number or quoted the complaint, which pretty much tells me that they haven’t found or read it either.
When you file a complaint at the ECHR, you get a case number which is how you track the case’s progress. Apparently, not a single news outlet even bothered to confirm that Kovesi did, indeed, file a complaint.
So, in conclusion:
- No one knows exactly when Kovesi filed her ECHR complaint.
- No one knows her ECHR case number.
- No one has ever read her ECHR complaint.
- I can’t find a shred of evidence that her ECHR case actually exists.
- It’s unclear what Kovesi supposedly wants the ECHR to do when she’s already said it’s neither be given money in damages nor to get her old job back.
- Kovesi didn’t bother to hold an organized press conference to announce what she had done.
- Kovesi never released a written statement about this very important act (filing an ECHR case against her own country).
Very odd, to say the least.
As a reminder, Kovesi is a known liar who almost certainly plagiarized much of her doctoral thesis. Her ex-husband, whose name she still uses (Kovesi), was a liar and a spy for the Securitate, and her father was a prominent Communist official.
Why are we then believing everything she says?
Furthermore, Kovesi has a good reason to give inflammatory statements to the press right now because the President and Justice Ministry are in a dispute about who can fire the Chief Prosecutor (Kovesi’s boss) that falls much along the same lines as what happened last year with the DNA.
Therefore, implying that the ECHR might get involved is a way for Kovesi to blast the same Justice Ministry which fired her last year while simultaneously showing support for her boss.
And that’s exactly how the press took it yesterday, as a warning shot against the PSD government to not overshoot its authority (yet again).
To Be Fair…
To be fair, there is always the possibility that Kovesi did actually file some kind of super-duper weird “complaint” that isn’t registered in the normal way or discoverable in the court records. Or maybe the ECHR website hasn’t been updated, and I’m completely off base.
But my suspicion tells me that Kovesi just told a big fat lie, and everyone fell for it.
Well, that’s what happens when you rely on news from propaganda outlets instead of supporting authentic journalism ;)