“We don’t hold them with a heavy hand”. Maia Sandu responds to criticism of pre-vetting by several prosecutors, including Veronica Dragalin, head of the PA
The fact that more prosecutors will leave the system if they are forced to go through the Pre-Vetting Commission evaluation “should not scare us.” The statements were made by Maia Sandu in an interview for Ziarul de Gardă, in which the president commented on the criticism of the vetting process by Veronica Dragalin, head of the Anticorruption Prosecutor’s Office, and other prosecutors.
According to the head of state, the prosecutor’s office cannot clean itself and external evaluation is the only way to get rid of corruption in the justice system.
“The head of the Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office admits that there are corrupt prosecutors, including in the institution she heads. We see that the prosecution cannot clean itself. And the country doesn’t have time to wait a few more years for corrupt prosecutors’ cases to dust in court. They must be kicked out of the prosecutor’s office as soon as possible and stopped taking bribes and protecting thieves. The extraordinary external review is not ideal, but it is the only real and credible way to get the corrupt out of the system,” the President said.
She also does not see it as a problem that prosecutors who do not want to go through the vetting process will leave the system.
“It is said that more prosecutors will leave the system if they are forced to pass the integrity test. This should not scare us. We are not holding them back. We will support and motivate, including financially, honest people who are truly dedicated to their work as prosecutors and judges. We do not accept blackmail of those who do not want to prove their integrity,” said Maia Sandu.
Asked about the accusations levelled at Veronica Dragalin about her diploma, the President replied that it was predictable that “people who really fight corruption would be attacked by those who do not want change”.
“Ms Dragalin won a competition to head the most important anti-corruption institution. The head of the PA correctly identified the fundamental problem and exposed it publicly – corruption within the prosecution and the judiciary. The expectation of society is that this problem will be solved. We must expect that people who are really fighting corruption will be attacked by those who do not want change. That is why it is important to strengthen our efforts. The fight against corruption in Moldova needs the united effort of all those who sincerely want to cleanse the country of corruption,” the head of state said.
The Parliament voted on 31 July in the second reading on a draft law under which more than 200 prosecutors and around 140 judges in key positions will undergo external evaluation.
In the financial integrity assessment process, assets and expenses will be checked against available and declared income. The income and expenditure of not only the subjects of the assessment but also their family members will be verified.
On 1 August, the Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office (AP) held a press conference to mark the first year in office of Chief Prosecutor Veronica Dragalin, where, answering questions from journalists, the AP chief expressed scepticism about the external evaluation of prosecutors and judges.