Details of the four judges who were searched. Magistrates’ names in law enforcement’s sights after wiretaps in criminal cases where they were not originally targeted
Radu Grecu, Mihail Diaconu, Garri Bivol and Valentina Garabagiu are the judges whose homes were raided on Tuesday, November 14, in corruption and influence-peddling cases, after the Superior Council of Magistracy (SCM) admitted the complaints filed by interim prosecutor general Ion Munteanu. According to Ziarul de Gardă’s sources, the names of the four magistrates came to the attention of the law enforcement bodies following interceptions in criminal cases in which they were not initially targeted.
One judge was targeted in the “Laundromat” case and another in April 2009 tried young people in the General Police Station. Ziarul de Gardă has analysed the work of the four judges targeted by the raids and brings you the most relevant information.
Radu Grecu has been a magistrate at the Chisinau Court of Appeals, Buiucani seat, since December 2017. According to magistrat.md, on July 30, 2003 he was a lawyer in the Associated Office of “Ialoveni Lawyers”. Radu Grecu is the judge who acquitted doctor Boris Duda from the Oncological Institute of the charge of committing the crime of receiving illicit remuneration for providing services in the medical sphere, on the grounds that “it was not proven that he received and extorted this remuneration for the surgery, as no conclusive and relevant evidence was presented in this regard”.
Mihail Diaconu has been working in the system since 17 June 2004. He worked at the Buiucani Court in the capital, an institution that was transformed after the reform of justice into the Buiucani seat of the Chisinau Court. He is currently a magistrate at the Chisinau Court of Appeal.
In April 2009, Mihail Diaconu was an investigating judge at the Buiucani Court. According to the report of the Commission investigating the events of 7 April 2009, he went to the premises of the General Police Station (CGP), where he admitted nine requests submitted by a prosecutor for the application of preventive arrest to detained persons. However, Diaconu, unlike other magistrates involved in prosecuting participants in the April 2009 events, kept his position intact. In February 2010, Diaconu explained to ZdG that his work in April 2009 was for the good of society: “I arrested the man who was walking around the centre with a rifle in his back. And for his two colleagues I also carried the files,” the judge said, without explaining whether there would have been sufficient arguments on file for the three young men. Judge Diaconu added that the people he tried had lawyers and that he wore the mantle during these trials.
In March 2014, Mihail Diaconu entered the competition to fill the vacant position of judge at the Chisinau Court of Appeal and won the vote of the Superior Council of Magistracy (SCM), respectively, his candidacy was proposed to the then President Nicolae Timofti for appointment to the post. The SCM’s decision to promote Diaconu prompted an outcry from a victim of the April 2009 events, who asked the President not to appoint him to the post. Shortly afterwards, Mihail Diaconu dropped his intention to be promoted. But in September 2018, by a decree of former President Igor Dodon, he was appointed as a judge at the Chisinau Court of Appeal.
According to ZdG sources, Mihail Diaconu is the Chisinau Court of Appeal judge who was detained on Tuesday, November 14, for 72 hours by prosecutors and officers of the National Anti-Corruption Center. The magistrate is suspected of committing the crime of influence peddling after allegedly claiming, together with judges Garri Bivol and Valentina Garabagiu, to have influence over judges at the Chisinau Court of Appeal to apply a more lenient preventive measure against a person under investigation in a criminal case. They allegedly demanded around €3,000 from the defendant.
Garri Bivol has held the robe of magistrate since May 2004. According to magistrat.md, in April 2012 he was appointed to perform the duties of investigating judge at the Centru Court of Chisinau municipality. Four years later, the SCM plenary issued the consent to carry out criminal prosecution actions – detention, forced arrest, arrest and search – against Bivol and decided to suspend him from the position of judge.
Magistrate Garri Bivol was targeted in the “Laundromat” case, also known as the “Russian Laundry”. Bivol is one of five judges who requested reinstatement after anti-corruption prosecutors issued orders in September 2020 ordering the removal from prosecution of 13 former and current judges targeted in the “Laundromat” case on charges of complicity in money laundering on the grounds that the act did not meet the elements of the crime.
Earlier, ZdG wrote that Garri Bivol is the husband of Judge Valentina Garabagiu, who was also targeted in the raids. Valentina Garabagiu has been a judge at the Chisinau Court of Appeals since November 2007 and was on leave from 2013 to 2016 to care for her child. Valentina Garabagiu is the magistrate who abstained from the 2019 case against former Prime Minister Vlad Filat, in which he was accused of money laundering on a particularly large scale. In 2021, the National Integrity Authority verified the data included in the magistrate’s 2021 declaration of assets and personal interests, but found “the absence of the appearance of the existence of a substantial difference between the income obtained, the expenses incurred and the wealth acquired” by her.
On Tuesday, November 14, 2023, the PA announced that, jointly with the National Anti-Corruption Centre (NAC), it conducted searches in the offices, cars and homes of the four judges for whom the SCM Plenum admitted the referrals of the acting Prosecutor General, requesting the release of the consent to carry out criminal prosecution actions against some magistrates, criminally investigated by the PA. According to the acting president of the SCM, Sergiu Caraman, the four judges are from the Chisinau Court and the Chisinau Court of Appeal, and the criminal cases are connected.
In the first case, one of the judges is suspected of passive bribery and influence peddling. The Council has therefore given its consent to start criminal prosecution actions, including the arrest, detention, arrest and search. For two other judges, who are suspected of complicity in bribery and influence peddling respectively, consent was given for the same prosecution actions. The last judge involved is suspected of active bribery, and consent has been given for the prosecution, arrest, detention and search.
As a result of the searches, two judges were detained for 72 hours, one of whom works in the Chisinau Court of Appeal and the other in the Chisinau Court of Appeal. The PA has not made their names public.