How Has the Justice System Changed After Alexandr Stoianoglo Was Appointed General Prosecutor Last Year
Within the last year, the General Prosecutor’s Office has depoliticized the investigation of criminal cases. However, the phenomenon of selective justice is still widespread, and refusing criminal prosecution or reviewing high-profile cases is common. Therefore, the credibility of the General Prosecutor’s Office, which holds a key role in the justice system of Moldova, is weak.
This is one of the main findings of the analytical note by Iulian Rusu, Deputy Executive Director of the Institute for European Policies and Reforms. He came to this conclusion after examining the activity of the General Prosecutor’s Office a year after the Prosecutor General Alexandr Stoianoglo’s appointment. The analysis is based on the evolutions of the high-profile cases, as well as in terms of legal requirements and suspicions of selectivity in some cases.
According to the analytical note, the relevant actions within the General Prosecutor’s Office included the removal of several chief prosecutors from the specialized prosecutor’s offices and the initiation of criminal cases targeting them. The Prosecutor’s Office also examined attempts to influence the criminal prosecution process through illegal surveillance of prosecutors appointed to investigate high-profile cases.
The author of the note claims that, although the Prosecutor’s Office has increased transparency, the institution did not stand out as an equidistant actor, as it still shows signs of selectivity. High-profile cases have been examined superficially or redirected to other actors, who do not have the institutional powers to initiate criminal investigations and are not listed as authorities of finding. At the same time, the National Integrity Authority, designed to verify integrity, has before it limited tools and can only provide findings based on available data, which is incomplete.
“The investigation of the main high-profile cases, such as the billion-dollar bank fraud case and the Russian Laundromat, has not been completed; instead, they focused on cases involving mainly the oligarch Vlad Plahotniuc and his entourage. Waiving indictment in several cases does not contribute to a positive image of the Prosecutor’s Office. At the same time, the businessman and politician Ilan Shor’s case has been delayed; there have been over 40 postponements of the examination of the appeal. One of the main reasons invoked is the lack of economic-financial expertise necessary to ascertain the involvement of the main participant in episodes of bank fraud,” Iulian Rusu thinks.
The analytical note also reports pressure on prosecutors on specific cases and calls for prompt action to protect prosecutors’ investigative teams. It is essential that the General Prosecutor’s Office and other law enforcement institutions, including the Intelligence and Security Service, defend the actors involved in the investigation of high-profile cases and prevent the discouragement of staff involved in criminal proceedings.
The amendments to Law No. 3/2016, proposed by the Prosecutor’s Office, on the basis of the draft laws submitted by the Ministry of Justice, including the exclusion of the participation of the Superior Council of Prosecutors in the decision-making process regarding the transfer of chief prosecutors and their deputies, are unconstitutional and should be considered as soon as possible.
Based on the analysis made, the author recommends a series of actions to increase the credibility and public support for the General Prosecutor’s Office activity:
- Raising the credibility of the General Prosecutor’s Office by not admitting persons to procedural actions if they are suspected of being involved in committing crimes. The public must know that persons with high positions of responsibility within the Prosecutor’s Office are beyond suspicion in terms of integrity and of influencing the prosecution of cases in which they may be involved;
- Preventing redirecting cases to authorities with functions other than criminal prosecution, especially in high-profile cases;
- Intensifying investigative efforts and sanctioning persons involved in the high-profile cases in Moldova (billion-dollar bank fraud case, the Russian Laundromat);
- Revitalizing the activity of the Anticorruption Prosecutor’s Office, especially on cases of high corruption, which would lead to tangible results for society;
- Providing detailed reasons and, where appropriate, evidence on which the waiver of the indictment is based, especially in high-profile cases;
- Strengthening investigation teams and providing sufficient equipment to be able to investigate high-profile cases effectively and quickly.