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Romania justice minister picks chief anti-graft prosecutors

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BUCHAREST (Reuters) – Romania’s government named three chief prosecutors to head the country’s top investigative agencies on Tuesday, ending a months-long interim leadership imposed by a previous government.

Crin Bologa has been named head of the National Anti-corruption Directorate — the DNA — the agency that investigates and prosecutes official corruption, Justice Minister Catalin Predoiu said.

“Prosecutor Bologa … represents a guarantee that fighting corruption will continue energetically,” Predoiu told reporters. “I selected those candidates that have experience and are regarded as competent in those prosecuting fields.”

Predoiu said he also appointed Gabriela Scutea as the head of the general prosecution office and Giorgiana Hosu as the head of the anti-mafia Directorate for Investigation of Organised Crime and Terrorism, or DIICOT.

In July 2018, the Social Democrat (PSD) government sacked Laura Codruta Kovesi as head of the DNA — a move that drew widespread criticism in Romania and the rest of the European Union.

Kovesi had won a reputation as a tough anti-graft crusader in Romania, one of the most corrupt countries in the EU. In September 2019, she was named the EU’s first fraud prosecutor.

The tem of the previous prosecutor general – a critic of the PSD’s attempts to weaken the judiciary – expired last April. The head of the DIICOT resigned last October after criticism of his handling of a kidnapping-murder case.

The three new prosecutors had all worked in their respective agencies until Tuesday’s nomination.

Those agencies have investigated scores of lawmakers, ministers, magistrates and businessmen in recent years, exposing conflicts of interest, abuse of power, fraud and the award of state contracts in exchange for bribes.

All three institutions have earned praise from Brussels for exposing high-level graft, including the theft of EU funds.

Transparency International ranks Romania one of the EU’s most corrupt states. Brussels has kept its justice system under special monitoring since Romania joined the EU in 2007.

Reporting by Radu Marinas

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via Reuters