New Judges at the Supreme Court of Justice and the Chișinău Court of Appeal
At the end of July, the Superior Council of Magistracy appointed several judges to important positions to the Supreme Court of Justice and the Chișinău Court of Appeal. While the competition for the position of the President of the Supreme Court of Justice failed, the Superior Council of Magistracy members appointed Vladislav Clima as the President of the Chișinău Court of Appeal. Previously, Clima upheld the decision to invalidate the local elections in 2018. Clima is also the one who issued several decisions that caused dissatisfaction in society.
The Superior Council of Magistracy also chose two judges to fill in the positions of vice-presidents of the Supreme Court of Justice. Magistrate Tamara Chişca-Doneva was one of the judges appointed as vice-president of the Supreme Court of Justice. Previously, Chişca-Doneva was part of the panel of judges, who made the final decision in the Gemini case, for which the state must pays about €3.6 million following a decision from the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR).
These contests came to the attention of the society, and of the parliamentary opposition, which organized demonstrations during the Superior Council of Magistracy meeting.
The competition for the position of the President of the Chișinau Court of Appeal was won by Vladislav Clima, who was already known in public that he would be the favorite of the competition. Clima had only one counter-candidate, the vice-president of the Chișinău Court of Appeal, Iurie Iordan. Both candidates obtained an excellent rating and 80 points each from the Superior Council of Magistracy. Initially, both magistrates received identical points. But after the interview stage, the winner of the contest became Clima, for whom nine members of the Superior Council of Magistracy voted, the other three voting against.
Vladislav Clima is the son of Nicolae Clima, former President of the Superior Council of Magistracy, former judge at the Supreme Court of Justice and former head of the Judicial Inspection attached to the Superior Council of Magistracy.
Vladislav Clima is working as a judge since 2006. Initially, Clima worked at the Chișinău Court, Ciocana district headquarters. In February 2017, Clima became a judge at the Chișinău Court of Appeal based on a decree issued by President Igor Dodon. From 2019, the judge also holds the chair of president of the Association of Judges, a position previously held for eight years by the former judge of the Supreme Court of Justice, Ion Druță.
Clima, the Judge Who Upheld the Decision to Cancel the 2018 Local Elections in Chișinău
Throughout his judicial career, Clima issued several controversial decisions. Clima was part of the panel of three judges from the Chișinău Court of Appeal. They upheld the decision of the first instance court, regarding the annulment of the results of the 2018 local elections for the mayor of Chișinău, won by Andrei Năstase. A year later, Clima was also among the judges who decided to validate the 2018 election.
Clima was also among the judges who tried to dismiss the current members of the Superior Council of Magistracy in the fall of 2019.
In October 2019, the magistrate was part of the panel of judges who decided to annul the Superior Council of Magistracy decision by which Judge Oleg Melniciuc, accused in two criminal cases, was suspended from office. Subsequently, the Supreme Court of Justice decided to send the case to the Chișinău Court of Appeal to motivate its decision from October 2019.
In November 2019, Clima was also among the judges who accepted the request submitted by Oleg Sternioală, accused of money laundering and illicit enrichment. Clima ordered the suspension of the enforcement of the Superior Council of Magistracy decision on prosecuting Sternioală. Subsequently, the decision was annulled by the Supreme Court of Justice.
Clima States that His Decision Were Profesional
In 2016, Clima ordered the collection of 700,000 dollars from an offshore company in Panama in favor of a company that had links with Metalferos, the main exporter of ferrous and nonferrous metals in Moldova.
In the summer of 2019, the former Minister of Interior, Andrei Năstase, asked the General Prosecutor’s Office to open a criminal case on Clima’s name.
Clima also issued a decision through which a land plot of about 1.1 hectares owned by Moldexpo entered into the property of Finpar Invest company, the beneficiary of which was Vladimir Plahotniuc, former leader of the Democratic Party. The Judicial Inspection was notified based on these two decisions.
During the Superior Council of Magistracy meeting on July 29, the magistrate stated that the Judicial Inspection did not find any elements of disciplinary violations or elements that would raise doubts about illegality.
Dorel Musteață, member of the Superior Council of Magistracy, the one who notified the Inspection, specified that he is going to contest the decision.
Clima said that in his opinion, all these decisions were professional.
“What the press or politician reflect is nothing more than a personalized, or emotional, or political reflection on the concrete legal situation of a party,” the judge said at the Superior Council of Magistracy meeting at which he was appointed the President of the Chișinău Court of Appeal.
Vladislav Clima’s Assets
According to the declaration of assets and personal interests for 2019, Clima’s family owns a house of 295 square meters. The house is located on a 12 acres land plot, the authorization for building the house was obtained in 2014. ZdG found that the house is in Trușeni, a suburb of Chișinău, and it has been under construction for several years.
In addition, to the unfinished house in Trușeni, the Clima family also owns one apartment of 55 square meters and another of 70 square meters. At the same time, Clima indicates in his declaration of assets a 193 square meters apartment, used on the basis of a loan agreement. The judge says that the owner of this apartment is a certain Raisa Prisejnii.
In 2019, Clima received a salary of over 15,000 euros (299,300 lei) from the Chișinău Court of Appeal, over 2,000 euros (41,800 lei) from Moldova State University and around 2,000 euros (38,500 lei) from the National Institute of Justice.
The Clima family also received 6,000 euros (119,000 lei) as payment of MTPL insurance. Also in 2019, Clima states that he received donations of 30,000 dollars from his brother and father (former judge Nicolae Clima) in the form of financial aid for studies for the benefit of the member of the Clima Vlad-Tudor family.
And in 2017, Clima stated that he received donations of 10,000 euros from his father. Clima’s family owns a Land Rover Discovery Sport car, produced in 2015 and bought in 2016 for 38,000 euros, and a Volkswagen Passat Comfortline car manufactured in 2017 with a declared value of 20,000 euros.
The Newly Appointed Vice-Presidents at the Supreme Court of Justice
During the meeting on July 28, the Superior Council of Magistracy also elected Nadejda Toma as the vice-president of the Supreme Court of Justice and president of the Criminal College, and Tamara Chişca-Doneva, as the vice-president of the Supreme Court of Justice and president of the Civil, Commercial and Administrative Litigation College.
Tamara Chișca-Doneva has been working in the judiciary since 1987. Since 2003 she is working at the Supreme Court of Justice. Chișca-Doneva was one of the judges from the Supreme Court of Justice who took the final decision in the Gemeni case, following which the state was obliged by the ECtHR to pay €3.6 million euros.
In March 2020, Prosecutor General, Alexandr Stoianoglo, said that the Prosecutor’s Office would soon begin criminal proceedings to find what happened when the decisions were made.
In 2014, ZdG wrote that the judge and her husband lived in a two-level house in the Râșcani district, midtown Chișinău, with an estimated value of 355,000-406,000 euros (7-8 million lei) at that time.
Nadejda Toma was appointed a judge at the Supreme Court of Justice in 2014 until she reached the age limit. Since January 2018, she has been the President of the Superior Council of Magistracy Disciplinary Board.
Toma was part of the panel of judges from the Supreme Court of Justice that in 2018, declared inadmissible the appeals filed by Veaceslav Platon’s lawyers, thus maintaining Platon’s sentence of 18 years.
In February 2017, she was part of the Supreme Court of Justice panel that read out the Supreme Court’s verdict in the Filat case, sentenced to nine years in prison, rejecting the ordinary appeal declared by the ex-prime minister’s lawyers.
The Competition for the President of the Supreme Court of Justice Failed
Also during the meeting of July 28, the competition for the President of the Supreme Court of Justice took place. For this position applied magistrates Liliana Catan and Anatolie Țurcan. Although it was rumored in the public space that Liliana Catan would be the favorite of the contest, the Superior Council of Magistracy members decided to cancel the contests. The members of the Superior Council of Magistracy also decided to organize a new competition because no candidate obtained the required number of votes from the members of the Council.
Catan is part of the Advisory Council of Experts on the Reform of the Justice System, connected to Dodon. Catan was part of the judge panels of the Supreme Court of Justice due to which the state lost several cases at the ECtHR.
After the Superior Council of Magistracy meeting, when asked if she will run for the next competition as head of the Supreme Court of Justice, the magistrate specified that she will decide. As for the lost cases at the ECtHR, Catan states that she does not comment on those decisions.
The members of the Superior Council of Magistracy also failed to elect the President of the Superior Council of Magistracy. Currently, this position is held by Anatol Pahopol, with the title of interim president. After several contradictory discussions, the subject of the appointment of the president was removed from the agenda.
Instead, the Superior Council of Magistracy appointed Victor Olărescu as the vice-president of the Hâncești Court, and Petru Triboi as the vice-president of the Ungheni Court.
The candidacies of the two are to be sent to Dodon.
According to the agenda, on July 29, the members of the Superior Council of Magistracy were to appoint several judges to the Supreme Court of Justice and the Chișinău Court of Appeal. However, the competitions were postponed because an employee of the Superior Council of Magistracy was positively diagnosed with COVID-19 on the evening of July 28.