The Romanian government is expected to adopt an emergency ordinance on Wednesday to change criminal law in a serious way, governmental sources have told HotNews.ro. The exact scope of the changes is not clearly known, but they are expected to target key legal means used in the fight against high level corruption that has taken Romania by storm for several years. President Klaus Iohannis, whom many have seen as the most important remaining opposition figure to the current government, made a mooted intervention on the issue on Tuesday.
- UPDATE 18.01.2017 The government dropped plans to discuss two emergency ordinances in this regard during its morning session on Wednesday after President Iohannis showed up to attend the session and prevent such a move.
The changes would come as a new government, dominated by the Social Democrats (PSD), came into office earlier this month, after the PSD reported a strong win in general elections last year.
And they come as top level politicians led by PSD-connected people indicted for various acts of corruption - including PSD leader Liviu Dragnea, currently the speaker of the House of Deputies - have been challenging reforms and actions against graft that have been pursued in the past year.
And one major move against corruption came by means of a series of televised "revelations" made by Sebastian Ghita, a businessman who had served as PSD MP and who is currently on the run to escape corruption inquiries. Ghita used his own TV station to broadcast allegations against anti-graft prosecutors and intelligence services officials.
These already resulted in the resignation of Florian Coldea, the deputy head of the Romanian Intelligence Service (SRI). While SRI said Coldea, seen as a key figure in supporting the fight against corruption, albeit in controversial manners, said he was not found guildy of any misdeeds in office, in light of Sebastian Ghita's "revelations", he was forced to leave anyway.
The changes come as PM Florin Grindeanu is expected to leave for the US to attend Donald Trump's presidential inauguration. Grindeanu delegated deputy PM Sevil Shhaideh to take his place for the period.
According to HotNews.ro sources, the changes due to be adopted on Wednesday include measures that would "mask" an official pardon for people charged or sentenced for a series of criminal acts. Also targeted are said to be legal provisions regarding the abuse in office, neglect, conflict of interests and denouncers' protection.
Such moves would put an end to a series of high level inquiries, as chief anti-graft prosecutor Laura Codruta Kovesi pointed out on Tuesday. She warned that "an assault" on the judiciary was taking place.
Also today, President Klaus Iohannis made a public statement related to Coldea's dismissal. He said it was a "good thing" talk is taking place about the secret services and their involvement in political life. He said such meddling was "not good".
But Iohannis - who, given the lack of a forceful opposition in the Parliament, is seen by many as the main opponent of the PSD-led government - fell short of taking a strong line on attempts to change key legislation. He wondered that the parliamentary majority might be "mature enough" to not promote such changes, while failing to consider the possibility that such moves may be adopted by the Parliament.