Fired Romanian prosecutor will fight graft in new role

By The Associated Press | Posted - Jul. 11, 2018 at 12:42 p.m.

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BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — The Romanian prosecutor who was removed this week from her post leading the fight against corruption amid allegations of misconduct will use her expertise in a new job, the prosecutor general said Wednesday.

Augustin Lazar overrode an earlier statement from the Superior Magistrates Council which said Laura Codruta Kovesi had been appointed a prosecutor at the anti-organized crime agency in the central city of Sibiu.

Lazar said in a statement that Kovesi had been appointed as a prosecutor for the public ministry tasked with implementing a 2016-2020 national anti-corruption strategy.

Her role will involve updating strategies to fight graft and working on a strategy for different prosecutors' offices, a statement said. Opposition party Union to Save Romania, which had invited her to join its ranks, said Wednesday that it was temporarily withdrawing its offer in the light of the announcement.

Kovesi was named prosecutor general in 2006, but gained international recognition as the chief prosecutor at the National Anti-Corruption Directorate, a position she held for five years until Monday.

Under her leadership, the agency successfully prosecuted lawmakers, ministers and other top officials for bribery, fraud, abuse of power and other corruption-related offenses.

Although popular with ordinary Romanians, she attracted many enemies among politicians, particularly members of the ruling Social Democratic Party.

Romania's top court ordered her dismissal over accusations of incompetence — allegations critics say were politically motivated. Her departure raised doubts about Romania's commitment to fight high-level graft.

In his first comments since he formally removed Kovesi, President Klaus Iohannis vowed "more than ever" to support the anti-corruption fight. He praised the good work done by Kovesi and the agency, stressing that he fired her to comply with the court order and "respect the rule of law."

"If someone is happy that the anti-corruption fight will slow down," they can think again, he said.

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