INVESTIGATION: Wealth, Cases, Integrity. Who are the seven magistrates who want to be promoted to the Supreme Court of Justice?
Seven judges, two from the Chișinău Court of Appeal and five from the Chișinău Court, aspire to be promoted to the Supreme Court of Justice. Some of them own assets of millions acquired in parallel with the activity of justice, others appear in lost cases at the ECtHR or in disciplinary proceedings examined by the Disciplinary Board and the Superior Council of Magistracy. ZdG analyzed the careers and fortunes of the seven judges who aspire to do justice to the Supreme Court of Justice.
Judges Nelea Budăi and Stelian Teleucă from the Chișinău Court of Appeal, as well as Svetlana Garștea-Bria, Radu Țurcanu, Sergiu Daguța, Serghei Dimitriu and Vitalie Stratan from the Chișinău Court are the seven magistrates participating in the competition organized by the Council Superior of Magistracy for the vacant positions of judge at the Supreme Court of Justice.
Luxurious house, car, and a pension higher than the salary
Nelea Budăi lives with her husband, Boris Budăi, in a luxurious building located in the Buiucani sector of Chișinău. The house was built on a plot of land with an area of five acres, bought by her family in 2001 from the Chișinău City Hall, and was put into operation in 2012. During the period when her family bought the land and built the house, Nelea Budăi already worked at the Court of Appeal. In 2002, the Budăi family also purchased the neighboring land of five acres. In December 2012, the land was donated to their son, Artur Budăi. With a lawyer’s license since 2014, Artur Budăi is hired in July 2020 as a legal assistant at the Chișinău Court.
In 2020, the Budăi family bought a new car, 42,000 euros, a Toyota Land Cruiser Prado 150. In the same year, according to the declarations of wealth and personal interests, the Budăi family obtained income in the amount of 60,000 euros. Nelea Budăi received the most money from her pension – 21,000 euros. The magistrate’s pension is higher than her salary, her salary for 2020 being 16,000 euros. Judge Budăi’s pension was substantially increased after, in January 2019, she sued the National Social Insurance House, requesting pension recalculation. All the courts ruled in her favor, forcing the institution to recalculate her pension. Boris Budăi, the judge’s husband, also received a pension from the State Protection and Guard Service in the amount of 7,000 euros in 2020. In addition to the house and the car, the Budăi family owns another 5 ha of agricultural land, but also two other houses, received by her husband as an inheritance. In 2020, the Budăi family borrowed 15,000 euros from someone by the name of Zinaida Cuznețov. The money was borrowed without interest and is to be repaid in 2021.
In a comment for ZdG, Nelea Budăi stated that her family built the house from savings done from 2001 to 2012. “My and my husband’s income for 11 years covers the expenses for building the house. The adjacent land, which you are asking about, was purchased from a neighbor who was selling it urgently, through the sale-purchase contract of December 6, 2002, at a price of 1,500 euros. Subsequently, following the donation contract of December 28, 2012, our son became the owner of the land. These real estates, as well as the others, are declared every year, and the declarations are constantly verified by the competent bodies, and no deviations were detected. As for the amount of 15,000 euros we borrowed in 2020 for the exchange of my husband’s car, from the family friend, Zinaida Cuznețov, we have known each other for 9 years, we have full trust in each other and help each other when needed. We never pursue petty goals, but good human relations,” Nelea Budăi stated for ZdG.
Nelea Budăi appears in at least 12 cases lost by Moldova to the ECtHR
In June, Nelea Budăi completed 31 years of service as a judge. She was appointed a magistrate at the Lenin District Court (now Râșcani sector of Chișinău e.n.) in Chișinău in June 1990. In 2000, she was appointed by transfer to the Court of Appeal, and in 2013 she was elected vice-president of this court, although her opponent, Domnica Manole, had obtained more points at the evaluation of the College for the Selection and Career of Judges. In July 2019, Nelea Budăi was evaluated twice by the College for the Evaluation of Judges’ Performance, once – for the activity of judge and the second time – for the activity of vice-president of the court, receiving the grade “excellent“. The members of the College found that, in the verified period, 2016-2019, the judge did not appear in disciplinary proceedings and decisions by which the state was convicted at the ECtHR. In the previous ordinary evaluation, in 2016, it was found that the name of the magistrate appeared in a case lost Moldova to the ECtHR, for violating Article eight of the Convention (Right to respect for private and family life). However, the College did not find “substantial deficiencies of a professional, administrative or organizational nature in the activity of the judge, being recommended to study in more depth the jurisprudence of the ECtHR.”
At the ordinary evaluation in 2013, members of the Evaluation Board found that Budăi’s name appear in seven other cases lost by Moldova to the ECtHR. An analysis by the Center for Legal Resources shows that Nelea Budăi appears in at least 12 cases lost by Moldova to the ECtHR, “some quite serious, for which Moldova paid at least 129,276 euros.” “These include quite serious violations, which denote either a need to improve the application of European standards for the protection of human rights, or a biased attitude in favor of the state,” states the Center for Legal Resources representative.
ECtHR cases in which the name of Judge Nelea Budăi appears
”For example, in the case of Popov (2) v. Moldova (2005) the applicant’s right was found to have been violated because the Chișinău Court of Appeal, after seven years, quashed the irrevocable decision to return a building nationalized by the Soviet authorities). In the case of PPCD v. Moldova (2006), the ECtHR found a violation of freedom of association, because in 2002 the Ministry of Justice suspended the activity of PPCD for organizing peaceful meetings, and the Chișinău Court of Appeal refused to cancel the suspension. In the case of Balan v. Moldova (2008) it was found that the applicant’s property right was violated, because the national authorities used a photo taken by the applicant when issuing identity cards, without his consent, and the courts, including the Chișinău District Court, did not offer him compensation for the respective violation,” states the Center for Legal Resources representative.
“In the case of G.B. and R.B. v. Moldova (2012) violation of the right to privacy was found because the national judges did not provide sufficient compensation, without adequate motivation, to the plaintiffs, a couple who complained about wife’s sterilization by a doctor in a state hospital, without her consent and without informing her of it. In the case of Eremia v. Moldova (2013), the ECtHR found a violation of art. 3 (prohibition of torture), 8 (respect for privacy), and 14 (prohibition of discrimination), because the national authorities, including the Chșinău District Court, although it had sufficient information, did not take effective measures to protect the applicant from domestic violence by her spouse who was a policeman. In the case of Melnic v. Moldova (2019) it was found a violation of the right to a fair trial, because the Chișinău Court of Appeal did not motivate the acceptance of a request submitted by a city hall, after the expiration of the limitation period,” stated the Center for Legal Resources representative.
The judge commented and analyzed several lost cases at the ECtHR
In the commentary for ZdG, Nelea Budăi made more clarifications regarding the lost cases at the ECtHR in which her name appears. “With reference to the publication, such as ‘I wronged a woman surgically sterilized by the doctors’ mistake, later being compensated by the ECtHR“, I mention that, on March 21, 2007, G.B. and R.B. they filed a lawsuit to the Ștefan Vodă District Hospital, accessory intervener Bujujan Andrei, requesting the recovery of the material and moral damage. By the decision of the Căușeni Court of September 18, 2007, the action was partially admitted. The moral damage of 250 euros was collected from the District Hospital, for the benefit of G.B., and for the benefit of R.B – the moral damage of 50 euros. It was collected from the District Hospital for the benefit of the plaintiffs the material damage of 55 euros. By the decision of the Chișinău Court of Appeal of January 24, 2008, the appeal declared by G.B. and R.B. was admitted, with the partial quashing of the decision of the first instance, the collection from the District Hospital for the benefit of the appellants-plaintiffs of 500 euros each as moral damage, with the obligation of the Hospital to ensure G.B. daily, until 2020, with the drug rigevidon and reimbursement of legal expenses. The decision of the first instance regarding the collection of the material damage of 55 euros was maintained.
On September 24, 2008, the Supreme Court of Justice dismissed G.B. and R.B., upholding the decision of the Chișinău Court of Appeal of January 24, 2008. Thus, the decision of the Chișinău Court of Appeal of January 24, 2008, is perfectly legal and favorable to the appellants-plaintiffs. The compensation of the latter, by the ECtHR decision of 12,000 euros, does not mean that the Court of Appeal’s decision was unfair. Insufficient compensations are attributed to other ECtHR decisions, such as Ciolacu v. Moldova no. 22400/13, Ipate v. Moldova no. 5131/10,” states the judge of Budăi.
”I would like to point out that convictions at the ECtHR until they are classified by the competent bodies as disciplinary offenses, cannot be considered as risk factors the promotion of a judge. This conviction cannot be classified as activities contrary to the interests of the civil service or actions carried out to the detriment of Moldova, public authorities, society, human rights, and fundamental freedoms.”
She challenged in court the decision of the Superior Council of Magistracy by which she was not promoted to the Supreme Court of Justice
Nelea Budăi applied in September 2020 for the judge’s position at the Supreme Court of Justice but did not obtain the votes of the Superior Council of Magistracy members. Dissatisfied, in October 2020, she filed a lawsuit, requesting the annulment of the Superior Council of Magistracy’s decision, by which other judges were proposed to the Supreme Court of Justice. In July, the court noted that Budăi waived the action. In March, the Supreme Court of Justice had rejected the Superior Council of Magistracy’s request, by which it was requested to move the examination of the case to another court, equal in rank.
21 complaints examined in the last six years. All were considered unfounded
In the last six years, according to the information on the Superior Council of Magistracy website, Budăi’s name has appeared in at least 21 complaints examined by the Disciplinary Board, but all of them have been rejected as unfounded. The judge was mentioned in several press articles, accused of being involved in making dubious decisions. In 2012, the Intelligence and Security Service addressed the Superior Council of Magistracy, invoking the admission by the court of alleged false evidence and the unfounded increase of the debt of the state enterprise Moldtranselectro Chișinău by Termoelectrica Company Bucharest in the examination of a civil case. The case was managed by judges Nelea Budăi and Nina Traciuc. However, the Superior Council of Magistracy refused to examine the Intelligence and Security Service request, on the grounds that the case was pending, and “the evaluations of the actions of judges Nelea Budăi and Nina Traciuc would constitute obstruction of justice.” Nelea Budăi was part of the panel of judges who, in November 2016, upheld the decision of the Chișinău Court, Buiucani headquarters by which the Public Property Agency was obliged to sell at a normative price to a company affiliated to Vladimir Plahotniuc a land of 1.17 ha on the territory of Moldexpo, which belonged to the state.
ZdG previously wrote that Nelea Budăi is in an affinity relationship with a magistrate from the Supreme Court of Justice, Ala Cobăneanu. There are several cases examined at the Chișinău Court of Appeal by Nelea Budăi, and at Supreme Court of Justice – by Ala Cobăneanu. Through an answer previously offered by the Supreme Court of Justice, we were informed that Judge Budăi is not related to Cobăneanu, but to Judge Cobăneanu’s brother.
At the end of her statement, the magistrate Nelea Budăi stated: “I don’t think I will run for the Supreme Court of Justice anymore,” without indicating other details.
Judge Teleuca’s luxurious house not yet registered at the Cadastre
Stelian Teleucă lives in a building built by his family in recent years on a 7-acre plot on Dragomirna Street in Chișinău, bought in 2012. Although in the wealth declaration the judge indicates that the building would be worth 0 Moldovan Lei, in reality, it costs a few hundreds of thousands of euros and it is almost finished. The house is not yet put into operation, not being registered in the Cadastre, but there are several signs on the spot that the judge’s family already lives in it. Near the house, I found a BMW X1 car, declared by the judge.
Asked by ZdG, Stelian Teleucă specified that the building is built under the construction permit issued by the Chișinău City Hall in 2014 and that the construction of the house used financial sources accumulated over the years, including from the activity of senior lawyer at Victoriabank bank, where he was employed for a period of almost 10 years, from contracted bank loans, the last in the amount of 21,000 euros, due in 2036, the sale of the parents’ apartment for 45,000 euros in 2015 and the sale of the apartment obtained by mortgage for the amount of 32,000 euros in 2016.
Stelian Teleucă mentions that “the total income declared, together with his wife’s income, for 2020 from salaries, teaching activity, pensions and allowances, sales of goods, remittances, is 40,000 euros.”
“The origin of these financial sources, and those invested in the construction of the house are indicated in the wealth declarations submitted annually. Approximately 72,000 euros were invested in the construction of the house. At the moment, the house is not completed, it is not connected to the gas and sewerage network, but we decided to live with the family in that house on the grounds that neither I nor my wife owns another house,” the magistrate specified.
Teleucă would have sold the apartment bought at a preferential price for only 350 euros per square meter
Last year, Stelian Teleucă sold a BMW 328i car for 10,000 euros and bought another car of the same brand – BMW 520, manufactured in 2012, paying the same amount of money. The magistrate also owns a BMW X1, manufactured in 2014 and purchased in 2017, a trailer, manufactured and purchased in 2019, as well as a Can-Am motorcycle.
The magistrate bought and later alienated an apartment of 89 m.p. in the block on Ceucari Street, intended for judges, at preferential prices. The judge has invested in it since 2014, receiving the keys in April 2017. In a month and a half, he sold it, obtaining 32,000 euros, according to his wealth declaration.
A simple calculation shows that the judge sold the house for only 350 euros for a square meter, ie exactly at the price he bought it, well below the market price. In 2015 and 2016, the judge also contracted two debts: one from Moldova Agroindbank bank, amounting to 21,000 euros, and another from his mother, Valentina, in the amount of 4,500 euros, to be repaid by 2035 and 2036.
Disciplinary investigated following an article by ZdG but left unpunished
Stelian Teleucă has been a judge since 2006. He initially worked at the Chișinău Court, Botanica Headquarters, and in 2014 he was promoted to the Chișinău Court of Appeal. In 2014, 2017, and 2020, he was rated by the College for the Evaluation of Judges’ Performance as “very good” and “excellent“. There is no information about ECtHR decisions in which the state is convicted following decisions taken by Stelian Teleucă at the Chișinău Court, Botanica Headquarters or the Chișinău Court of Appeal.
In the years 2015-2021, the name of Judge Stelian Teleucă appears in 13 decisions of the Disciplinary Board, in which it was found that the complaints filed on behalf of the judge were unfounded. One of the complaints is based on an article of ZdG, “Public land of tens of millions, divided by three magistrates and a bailiff”, published in February 2015. We found then that a bailiff, based on a suspicious court decision, assigned himself the role of local public authority, organizing tenders for the sale of public land. Usually, the auctions were announced in a specific newspaper and being won by unknown and dubious companies with interests in construction. Two magistrates from the Chișinău Court, Botanica Headquarters, including Stelian Teleucă, qualified the auctions as legal so that several public lands were transferred to private property, without the consent of the municipality. The Disciplinary Board, notified by Ion Păduraru, then general secretary of the president’s office, did not find any deviations in the magistrate’s actions.
Stelian Teleucă was part of the panel of judges who acquitted the former deputy Constantin Țuțu in the criminal case from Codrii Orheiului. By the decision of December 2019, the Supreme Court of Justice overturned the decision of the Chișinău Court of Appeal and ordered the retrial of the case.
Previously, the panels of which Teleucă was part issued other decisions, being acquitted by several judges, a bailiff involved in the Laundromat, and people accused in the State Tax Service corruption case, which also included a former head of the institution, Nicolae Vicol.
Modest wealth and failed attempts at promotion
Svetlana Garștea-Bria owns an apartment obtained by inheritance back in 2003 and ¼ from another apartment, privatized in 1998. She indicates in her wealth declaration for 2020 that she owns a garage, which is not put into operation. The judge does not indicate any cars, but reports a debt of 2,300 thousand euros, contracted in 2020 and due in 2022, without interest. In 2020, Svetlana Garștea-Bria a salary income of 13,500 and a pension of 5,500 euros.
Svetlana Garștea-Bria has been a judge since 1994 and worked only at the Chișinău Court. Over the years, she participated in other competitions in the judiciary but did not get the votes of Superior Council of Magistracy members.
In 2014, she ran for vice president of the Chișinău Court, Botanica Headquarters. Although she had a higher score than her opponent, Radu Țurcanu, she was not promoted. In the last three years, Garștea-Bria has applied three times for promotion to a hierarchically superior court, being evaluated by the College for the Selection and Career of Judges.
Disciplinary proceedings concluded with a “warning“
According to the information on the Superior Council of Magistracy website, since 2014, Svetlana Garștea-Bria has appeared in eight decisions issued by the Disciplinary Board. In only one case, in January 2015, the judge was sanctioned with a warning, after it was found that she had issued three consecutive decisions on insuring the actions, even after the hierarchically superior court dismissed them. In June 2015, the Supreme Court of Justice rejected the appeal filed by Svetlana Garștea-Bria and upheld the disciplinary sanction.
In 2018, Svetlana Garștea-Bria filed a complaint with the Superior Council of Magistracy, invoking “unfair distribution of cases through the Integrated File Management Program”, because, in 2016-2017, she was assigned cases while on sick leave, thus creating an exaggerated volume of cases that led to the impossibility of examining the proceedings. The Superior Council of Magistracy took note of the judges’ request, but specified that “the arguments invoked were not confirmed.”
In 2013, 2016, 2018, and 2020, Svetlana Garștea-Bria was evaluated by the College for the Evaluation of Judges’ Performance. In three cases she received the rating “good”, and in 2020, “very good”. At the 2018 evaluation, the members of the College found that there is an ECtHR decision (“Savca v. Moldova” of March 15, 2016), which includes Svetlana Garștea-Bria. Following this decision, the state was convicted of illegal detention and inhumane conditions of detention.
In 2016, she ruled in favor of the sister of the Minister of Justice in a financial dispute
ZdG wrote in 2016 that Judge Garștea-Bria was the one who admitted the claims of Mariana Tăbuică, the sister of the Minister of Justice at that time, Vladimir Cebotari. She ordered the collection from the accounts of Moldatsa company, where Tăbuică was employed from November 2013 to October 2015, the amount of 20,000 euros. 17,000 euros represented the salary for the period of absence from work, and 3,000 euros – compensation “instead of re-employment.” Tăbuică did not ask the court to restore her to work, but only to grant her a sum of money in exchange for this possibility, which she practically refused to use. Four days later, on November 29, 2016, Judge Garștea-Bria issued an additional decision, which obliged Moldatsa to pay the state tax, in the amount of 600 euros, a decision omitted a few days earlier.
ZdG mentioned then that the court’s verdict, but also the action filed by Mariana Tăbuică against Moldatsa raised several questions. The court decided to pay her salary for the period in which she was absent from work, although Tăbuică left on her own initiative, as indicated in another decision in which Tăbuică and Moldatsa appear, but also in dismissal order. Subsequently, the Chișinău Court of Appeal overturned the decision of the court of the first instance. The Court of Appeal established that the magistrate Svetlana Garștea-Bria did not take into account the fact that the sister of Minister Cebotari, before leaving on medical leave, submitted a resignation request.
Removed from office and accused of justice obstruction, but reinstated by the court over a month
Radu Țurcanu, the president of the Chișinău Court, has been a magistrate since 2007 when he was appointed to the Chișinău Court, Botanica Headquarters. In 2014, he was elected vice-president of the court, and in 2017 he became president of the Chișinău Court, following a competition in which he was the only candidate.
In June 2019, by a decision of the Superior Council of Magistracy, Radu Țurcanu is removed from exercising the administrative function in the Chișinău Court, until a final decision taken following the information presented by Judge Mihail Murguleț, who submitted an informative note to the Superior Council of Magistracy, denouncing the fact that, in 2018-2019, he was subjected to unjustified attacks by the president of the Supreme Court of Justice, Ion Druță, the president of the Chișinău Court, Radu Țurcanu, and the vice-president of the Chișinău Court, Râșcani headquarters, Corneliu Guzun.
Murguleț claimed that the attacks had been preceded by attempts to interfere in his activity of administering justice on the part of Radu Țurcanu, who intervened with the request for annulment of an insurance measure applied in a civil case. Because he would have objected, “denigrating attacks were started against him, with the help of the Judicial Inspection, disciplinary cases being filed against him and two disciplinary sanctions were applied:” The action to remove Radu Țurcanu from office took place after the Democratic Party led by Vladimir Plahotniuc left the government.
A month later, however, Țurcanu returned to office, after the Chișinău Court of Appeal annulled, as illegal, the Superior Council of Magistracy decision of June 25, 2019, regarding his removal from office. Subsequently, the General Prosecutor’s Office issued an order of refusal to start the criminal investigation and to close the criminal case opened on the information note submitted by Murguleț. In April 2020, the one who left the system was Mihai Murguleț, after the Superior Council of Magistracy rejected his application requesting his appointment as a magistrate until he reached the age limit.
In 2011, he reinstated the president of the Franzeluța company in record time, and later issued an alleged raider attack decision
Radu Ţurcanu is the judge who, in 2011, examined in record time the request for reinstatement of Eugen Baleca, the ex-president of the Franzeluța company, after he had been dismissed by the Board of Directors. Baleca had been fired following controls carried out by the former Center for Combating Economic Crimes and Corruption, as a result of which it was found that he had harmed the state with hundreds of thousands of euros. Then, Judge Țurcanu reinstated Baleca the day after he was fired.
The scandal that brought Baleca to the forefront became notorious for the fight between the then prime minister, Vladimir Filat, and the former leader of the Democratic Party, Vlad Plahotniuc, for the control of the Franzeluța company. Baleca was considered a character close to Plahotniuc. At that time, the Minister of Justice, Oleg Efrim, had initiated a disciplinary procedure on behalf of the judge, but this was closed by the Disciplinary Board, on the grounds that the accusations were not confirmed.
Radu Țurcanu’s name also appears in the so-called raider attack from the Asito Insurance Company. Then, Ţurcanu, being a judge at the Chișinău Court, Botanica Headquarters, issued an order by which the offshore company Lokkert became the owner of 34.802% of the shares held by the Insurance Consult company in ASITO and the package of 48.325% of shares held by Moldovan Investments Limited to the same company.
Only in the years 2018-2021, Radu Țurcanu’s name appears in 21 decisions of the Disciplinary Board. Each time, however, he escaped punishment. According to the information on the Superior Council of Magistracy website, Țurcanu was evaluated in 2013, 2016, and 2019 by the College for the Evaluation of Judges’ Performance, always obtaining the rating “very good” or “excellent”. The decisions of the Evaluation Board do not mention the decisions of the ECtHR convicting Moldova due to some decisions of Judge Radu Țurcanu. According to the information placed on the page Lawyers for human rights, Țurcanu was a member of the panel of judges în the Savca v. Moldova case that was examined at the ECtHR. It is the same decision that appears next to another candidate for the Supreme Court of Justice, Svetlana Garștea-Bria.
Apartment of 114 square meters in blocks of flats for judges
In the wealth declaration for 2020, Țurcanu indicates salary incomes from the position of the court president of 20,000 euros. He also had other official income from teaching or renting a building. Since 2017, the magistrate has owned 114 sq. m. apartment, located on Romană Street in Chisinau, in a block of flats for judges, sold at preferential prices.
The magistrate received the right to buy this apartment, although, in 2010, he received from the local public authorities a 61 sq. m. apartment in the Botanica sector of Chișinău, addressing, in advance, in court with the request to be provided with housing. In the same building on Romană Street, Țurcanu has a garage and a storage closet, purchased in 2018. The judge drives a Toyota Rav 4 car, manufactured in 2017 and bought in 2019. His wife, Diana Țurcanu, owns 50% of the Xpert Propartner company with “business and management consulting activities”. In the declaration of assets for 2020, the judge indicated that he obtained an income of 700 euros, after leasing a building, previously acquired from the state.
In 2016, the portal moldovacurata.md wrote that the magistrate refused to indicate in the wealth declarations the price of the cars he owned, his family owning two cars, a Mercedes Benz and a Toyota Corolla, both manufactured in 2010, but bought in 2011 and 2014. “Well, it’s a trade secret, isn’t it? There are some things I make public, the law requires me to do them, but maybe you want to ask me what I ate last night or…? Everything that the judge is obliged to indicate in the declaration of wealth, I indicated, bluntly. You can check absolutely everything. The declaration is public, it is on the Superior Council of Magistracy website. We are in 2016. Open the a specialized website and you will see how much such a car is worth on the market,” was the judge’s answer. Subsequently, Radu Țurcanu began to indicate the value of cars in his wealth declarations.
Three decisions of the Disciplinary Board – all three declared unfounded
Sergiu Daguța was appointed judge in 2002. Since then he has worked only at the Chișinău Court. In 2018, for a short period, he held the position of interim vice-president of the Chișinău Court. Sergiu Daguța’s name appears in three decisions of the Disciplinary Board issued in 2016-2019, only that those complaints were declared unfounded.
In 2014, 2017, and 2020, Daguța was evaluated by the College for the Evaluation of Judges’ Performance, each time obtaining the rating “very good”. The magistrate’s name does not appear in lost cases at the ECtHR or in disciplinary proceedings resulting in his sanction.
The magistrate lives, together with his wife, Liuba Daguța, a lawyer (previously active at the General Prosecutor’s Office) in a 97 sq. m. apartment, located in the Ciocana sector of Chișinău, that was purchased in June 2016 for almost 50,000 euros. Before purchasing this house, the Daguța family had several other real estate transactions.
The real estate transactions of the Daguța family
Since 2005, the Daguța family has lived in an apartment of 42 sq. m. in the Râșcani sector of Chișinău. The house had been bought in 2005 and sold in January 2016. Two years earlier, in March 2014, the Chișinău Municipal Council decided to distribute to the Daguța family an apartment of 55 sq. m. The decision was made after the judge sued the municipal authorities, requesting that he be provided with housing, according to the law. By the decision of the Chișinău City Council of December 10, 2009, the Chișinău Municipal Council was obliged to provide housing for the judge’s family, the decision being upheld in 2010 by the Supreme Court of Justice.
The Daguța family came into possession of the apartment located on Zadnipru Street in Chișinău, in June, the same year. In December 2014, the judge filed a lawsuit and demanded non-pecuniary damage of 2,400 euros, motivating that, for over 4 years (from March 17, 2010, to June 8, 2014), by not executing the decision of the Chișinău Court of Appeal of December 10, 2009, regarding his request for a living space, the violation of the right to reasonable execution of the judgment took place, which caused him moral damage. The courts gave him 500 euros for moral damage.
In parallel, starting with 2014, the Daguța family also invested in an apartment of 66 sq. m. in a block built at preferential prices for judges, located on Ceucari Street, and since 2017, the Daguța family was the owner of that apartment. In the wealth for 2020, Sergiu Daguța indicated an income of 1980 euros from renting an apartment. Daguța is running not only for the position of judge at the Supreme Court of Justice but also for the position of judge at the Chișinău Court of Appeal.
Six decisions of the Disciplinary Board, zero sanctions
Serghei Dimitriu was appointed judge in 2008, at the Chișinău Court, Botanica Headquarters, and continues to work in this court. In 2018, he temporarily served as vice president of the court. Starting with 2016, the name of the judge appears in six decisions issued by the Disciplinary Board. In all cases, the members of the College found that the disciplinary offenses imputed to the magistrate are not based on facts and evidence.
In the last three years, Dimitriu has been evaluated three times by the College for the Selection and Career of Judges, after requesting to be promoted to a hierarchically superior court, but failed to obtain the votes of Superior Council of Magistracy members. In 2013, 2016, and 2019 Serghei Dimitriu was also evaluated by the College for the Evaluation of Judges’ Performance, always obtaining the grade “very good“, not being found “substantial deficiencies of a professional, administrative or organizational nature.”
The apartment and the debt from the bank where the judge’s wife works
Serghei Dimitriu lives, together with his family, in an apartment of 78 m.p. in Chișinău, which he purchased in October 2017 for 31,000 euros. In the same year, just two months earlier, his family sold for 37,500 euros a 71 sq m apartment, located on Ceucari Street, a building built especially for judges, in which he invested in 2014. The Dimitriu family owns also a share of ⅓ in an apartment in an old block of flats, which belonged to the parents of the judge’s wife since the early 1990s, but also a Nissan Qashqai car, manufactured in 2011 and bought in 2019. Since 2017, when the Dimiteiu family bought the apartment where it lives, it contracted a loan worth 27,000 euros from Moldova-Agroindbank with an interest rate of 7%, due in 2022. Tatiana Dimitriu, the judge’s wife, is employed at this banking institution, declaring for 2020 salary incomes of 20,000 euros. Dimitriu is running not only for the position of judge at the Supreme Court of Justice but also for the position of a magistrate of the Chișinău Court of Appeal.
In 2015 he was sanctioned with a “warning“. The judge did not contest the decision
Vitalie Stratan has been a judge since 2008, and since 2017 he has been vice-president of the Chișinău Court. In the same year, he briefly held the position of interim president of the Chișinău Court. Like all the management of the Chișinău Court, in June 2019, Stratan was removed from office, following the information note submitted by Mihai Murguleț, but soon returned to office. In May, Stratan was again appointed interim president of the Chișinău Court.
Like his colleagues, Stratan was rated by the College for the Evaluation of Judges’ Performance in 2013, 2016, and 2019 with “very good“. Although the College’s decision in May 2016 states that he was not disciplined, information on the Superior Council of Magistracy website shows that in January 2015, Stratan had a warning, after it was found that he had obliged the cadastral body to exclude two ares from a larger plot of land and to assign a cadastral number to it, without the Cadastral Office and the owner of the real estate being attracted in the process. In March 2015, the decision of the Disciplinary Board was validated by the Superior Council of Magistracy, not being contested by the magistrate.
New house bought in 2018 and apartment at a preferential price, sold shortly after purchase
Vitalie Stratan owns, since 2018, a house on the ground floor with an area of 116 m.p., purchased by his family in August 2018. ZdG found out that the building is located near the town of Vatra, Chișinău. The Stratan family also has an apartment of 50 m.p., obtained by donation in 2000 by Mihaela Stratan, the judge’s wife, from her parents, a share of ⅓ from another apartment, located outside the capital, acquired in 2003 and a garage. The Stratan family owns a Renault Scenic, manufactured in 2009 and purchased in 2013. In some pictures on social networks, the Stratan family appears together with the former Democratic deputy, Igor Vremea, but also with the current deputy mayor of Chișinău, Angela Cutasevici. “We are colleagues from the pedagogical school (with Igor Vremea, e.n.). I am proud of such colleagues. He is a specialist in his field,” says judge Vitalie Stratan.
In 2018, when they bought the house, the Stratan family contracted a loan worth 48,000 euros from Victoriabank, due in 2033, with an interest rate of “up to 7% annually”. Also in 2018, the family sold an apartment of 67 m.p. in which Stratan has invested since 2014. The building is located on Ceucari Street, in the complex built especially for judges. “The apartment I live in now is my wife’s donation, before the marriage. We do not live in the house (bought in 2018, e.n.). We’re doing repairs. I am very happy to show it to you,” the judge stated for us. Vitalie Stratan is also running for the judge position at the Chișinău Court of Appeal.
The competition to fill the five vacant positions of the judge at the Supreme Court of Justice was announced by the Superior Council of Magistracy at the end of October 2020 and was to take place during the Superior Council of Magistracy meeting, scheduled for April 6, 2021, but was postponed. No date has been set yet for the competition.