Ten Romanian deputies, most of whom belong to PM Victor Ponta's Social Democratic Party, have submitted a bill to change the Criminal Procedure Code in such a way that prosecutors currently involved in a major push against corruption would be left without key legal tools of investigation and even risk prison sentences, as legal experts have explained to HotNews.ro. Half of the initiators are themselves facing criminal investigations and indictments, including PM Ponta's own godson. And one of them has already received a sentence for conflict of interests.
The bill includes several dozen changes to the Criminal Procedure Code and legal experts consulted by HotNews.ro have warned many of these are extremely serious and carry a double purpose - to increase the burden of work for prosecutors and to intimidate them.
The changes include measures that would often make it impossible to apply sentences - such as a proposal to cut "reasonable" from the phrase "beyond a reasonable doubt", which is standard in international law and which is attempted to be changed into "beyond any doubt".
Another change is forcing evidence instead of suspicion as a key condition for preventive arrests; measures to discourage denouncers; and last but not least, the introduction of a new article regulating "abuse of power by judicial bodies", which threatens prosecutors with prison sentences in certain circumstances.
The initiative comes as Romanian anti-graft prosecutors have been pushing a major wave of cases against high profile politicians, public officials and business people, with criminal cases currently opened even against PM Victor Ponta's close cronies. For the past several months, politicians of all colors - including former President Traian Basescu, who had long claimed unconditional support for justice reform - have launched a series of fierce verbal attacks against judicial bodies involved in the fight against corruption, in an attempt to undermine them in the eyes of the public.