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News 21 Jan 13

Romania President Rejects Proposed Anti-Corruption Chiefs

President Traian Basescu has turned down the Justice Minister's two candidates to head the country's main anti-corruption institutions.

Marian Chiriac
Bucharest

President Traian Basescu has rejected the Justice Minister's nominations for the posts of Chief Prosecutor and head of the National Anti-Corruption Directorate, the DNA.

"The selection procedure wasn’t sufficiently open to encourage more qualified prosecutors to be interested in the posts,” he said.

Basescu told the Justice Minister to change the selection criteria to try to find the best professionals to head the country's top anti-corruption bodies.

The Justice Minister, Mona Pivniceru, sent her nominations to Basescu for approval last month. According to the constitution, the President has the final say.

Tiberiu Nitu, 41, a former first deputy prosecutor general until late last year, was nominated as Chief Prosecutor. Ioan Irimie, 58, was to be the new head of the DNA.

The Superior Council of Magistrates, CSM, had already rejected the two nominations but its ruling was only advisory.

The CSM is tasked with defending the professional reputation of magistrates and with protecting their independence and impartiality.

The nominations are widely seen as posing an important test of the government's seriousness in clamping down on corruption.

Romania is still considered one of the most corrupt states in the European Union and has made only limited progress in fighting graft and organised crime since it joined the EU in 2007.

Romania has drawn repeated criticism from the European Commission for its failure to tackle the problem.

But in recent months, the number of officials sentenced for graft has increased significantly. Eleven top officials were sent to jail since 2010, according to DNA data, including former Prime Minister Adrian Nastase and some other ex-ministers.

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