The Office of the Prosecutor General Announces that it Has Taken Decisions on Nine of the 38 Politically Motivated Cases. What Do the Experts Say?
Prosecutor General Alexandr Stoianoglo initiated the evaluation of 38 criminal cases, presumed instrumented for political reasons. After four months, the General Prosecutor’s Office issued a press release on June 9 informing that decisions were taken in the case of nine of the 38 criminal cases. The experts consider that this is for the first time and that the actions taken by the Office of the Prosecutor General are welcomed.
Thus, the criminal cases against Ludmila Kozlovska, Valentin Eșanu, Nina Cereteu, Andrian Borș and David Davitean (accused of the attempted assassination of Russian banker, German Gorbuntsov) were closed. A sentence of termination of the criminal trial was issued regarding Valentin Eșanu.
At the same time, the preventive measure was revoked and the search warrant in Ana Ursachi’s name was closed. Ana Ursachi was suspected of being part of a criminal group involved in taking over apartments forcefully. According to prosecutors, she was complicit in the murder of a woman in 1997, in order to take her property. Ursachi previously stated that she was not involved in this case and categorized the case as a political order.
The prosecutors opened the procedure for reviewing the criminal case against Olga Punga and initiated the procedure for suspending the execution of the sentence. Punga was accused of fraud in particularly large proportions while she was part of a criminal group. According to her husband, the case was filed after she refused to testify against the former deputy and businessman, Veaceslav Platon.
The prosecutors filed an appeal for annulment in favor of the convicted Safarmatov Arslan, requesting conditional suspension of the execution of the prison sentence in respect of him (having a degree of disability). But the Supreme Court of Justice decided to dismiss the prosecutors’ appeal. Chișinău Prosecutor’s Office, Buiucani headquarters, is currently examining Arslan’s request for a review of his criminal record.
“The courts will soon rule on the other criminal cases that are pending. No solutions have been adopted on these cases until now. The court hearings were postponed due to the special quarantine regime,” the Office of the Prosecutor General stated.
For the First Time, the General Prosecutor’s Office Admits its Mistakes and Takes Action
Lawyers note that it is for the first time when the General Prosecutor’s Office acknowledges its mistakes and takes a stand.
According to the lawyer Vadim Vieru, representative of the Promo-LEX Association, the action is welcomed, because there were cases abusively opened.
“Whether it is legally argued or not, it is to be analyzed from the perspective of every case in part. I do not know the contents of the files that have been declared political by this commission formed by Alexandr Stoianoglo, with few exceptions. But in some of the cases very serious abuses were committed, the easiest way being closing the cases or withdrawing the accusations in court by the prosecutor’s office, a fact which I think is currently being tried. For example, I know the case of the Petrenko group, Davitean’s case, in which certain charges were abusive. The lawyer Ursachi was persecuted because of her statements and visions, including political,” Vieru explained for ZdG.
The lawyer also states that the culprits are including prosecutors who work until now and that for them there is a mechanism of disciplinary liability, but there is a certain term, which Vieru claims is not certain if it can be applied now.
Vieru states that the files can be closed as political because they were initiated at the indication and in connection with certain events or political visions of people or to put some pressure. Asked if such practices have ever existed, the lawyer stressed that they depend on the independence of the prosecutor’s office.
“We have a new Prosecutor General who has promised to ensure independence in the prosecutor’s office and not long ago stated that since he himself is in charge of the prosecutor’s office, no political case has been started and there have not been organized arrests,” Vieru said.
Prosecutors Who Knowingly Filed a Criminal Investigation and Accused Innocent People Must be Punished
According to Ștefan Gligor, former candidate for the position of Prosecutor General, Stoianoglo took seriously the political cases and those instrumented following the orders of politicians.
“It is a big mistake to put the cases initiated against people who had a critical message against Plahotniuc in the same pot with the usurpation of state power case or cases that were opened following Plahotniuc’s or his men orders to put pressure on people with whom Plahotniuc and his men had a fight or a conflictual relation… These are separate categories,” Gligor stated.
The lawyer emphasizes that these actions of the Office of the Prosecutor General are absolutely legal because when the management of the institution changed, controls were made. The new administration verified how several criminal cases were investigated, finding that the pieces of evidence were misinterpreted, a violation of the criminal procedure was found and the involvement of the politics in the prosecutor’s office. This is a crime enshrined in the Criminal Code as bringing criminal liability knowingly to a person. Thus, Gligor points out that prosecutors who knowingly filed a prosecution and prosecuted innocent people must be punished.
“Such cases opened following politicians’ or organized criminal groups’ orders, were always part of Moldovan politics. Since independence, in the first few years, this was used as a form of pressure and control of society, political competitors, and businessmen. The prosecution system and the courts have always been used. But since 2001-2002, these processes have grown in each year bigger and bigger, reaching its peak during the period when Vlad Plahotniuc managed to control all state powers. I admit that the prosecution is not reformed. And when certain political directions or contexts change, we can wake up with the same practice taken over again. Without proper reform of the prosecutor’s office, that was the basic part in the usurpation of state power, we get nowhere. I am sorry that Alexandr Stoianoglo does not consider the reform of the prosecutor’s office a priority, including through re-evaluation of the professional and ethical competencies of prosecutors,” Gligor declared for ZdG.
The Group Has Evaluated and Continues to Evaluate Each File on the List, which is Both in the Investigative Phase, the Judicial Phase or Execution Phase
In February 2020, the Prosecutor General issued an order establishing a control and monitoring group of certain cases. While taking the decision, the Prosecutor General took note of the PACE Statements and Report, the statements of some non-governmental organizations, civic activists, representatives of political parties, but also addresses received by the General Prosecutor. Following the assessed reports, statements, and addresses, the prosecution made a list of cases that were allegedly politically motivated and that led to criminal prosecution and unfair trial of several persons.
According to the statement issued by the Office of the Prosecutor General, the Group has evaluated and continues to evaluate each case from the list in both the criminal and judicial prosecution phases, or execution. Subsequently, the information is debated and analyzed by the management of the General Prosecutor’s Office, together with the case prosecutors. The Office of the Prosecutor General also took note of the suggestions of the lawyers of some people allegedly politically persecuted and decided to consult those lawyers in the process of evaluating the cases. In this regard, lawyers of the persons alleged to be politically persecuted were asked to submit to the address of the Prosecutor General summarized information, setting out all the arguments and evidence confirming the alleged political pursuit and alleged violations of the law, admitted by the criminal investigation body, prosecutors, judges and other relevant issues related to the administration, analysis and assessment of evidence on a case-by-case basis and which could overturn the position and conclusions of the prosecutor, set out in the indictment.
The information offered by the lawyers is examined by the Control Group, the case prosecutor, or the state prosecutors, taking into account the conclusions of the Group, ensuring objectivity and the fairness of the judicial process, in accordance with Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
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