Prosecutor General Corneliu Gurin believes that the prosecution service must and can be reformed in the people’s and society’s interests, while the political tensions related to the possible revision of MPs’ votes in favor of his appointment to the post do not have connection with his person, but with the status and the future of this fundamental law enforcement institution.
- Mister Prosecutor General, despite certain unwritten rules in our job, I must thank you for accepting IPN’s request to give an interview. The request was made the day you were voted in, on April 18. I must say that the request was rather a test to weight you declared intentions to ensure transparency in the work of the prosecution service and we didn’t really expect that you will give your consent at a time when things around the post of prosecutor general were stirred up again.
- We believed and continue to sincerely believe that the ensuring of transparency in the work of every state institution, not only of the Prosecutor General’s Office, is a reformation instrument and an instrument for making sure that everything is done in the society’s interest. That’s why I considered it useful to give an example to my colleagues and to institute for myself a high level of communication with the media. But, unfortunately, I had to deal with other problems too, in exactly the context of the tensions you mentioned.
- Before discussing the tensions, given that this is the first interview you give since you were appointed, I want to ask you how did you take up your duties at the Prosecutor General’s Office (PGO)? We want to understand your style in the new post.
- I started attentively, with small, but well-planned as well as determined steps. First of all, I wanted to get familiar with the personnel. I held a number of discussions focusing on the organizational aspect and had several meetings with representatives of the diplomatic corps working in Chisinau and of state institutions. In the short period that passed, I managed to familiarize myself with the current activities of the institution. The accommodation will not last long. Together with the colleagues from the Prosecutor General’s Office, we already started work on the projects and measures aimed at increasing the institution’s efficiency, at making it more transparent and focused exclusively on the constitutional and legal tasks.
- Can you make a forecast as to your possible dismissal this Thursday?
- I’m not at all concerned. I do not work thinking at such things. I took my appointment to this very important post seriously and refuse to believe that somebody can play with such things now. I didn’t understand very well what happened in Parliament. I only saw in the press that there are MPs who do not want to admit that they voted for me. I discussed with the factions before the voting and was in the hall when the vote was held. I was sworn in and saw the Decision published in the Official Gazette. As all the constitutional procedures were performed, I believe that this is only an action that forms part of the current tense landscape. I refuse to believe that somebody now tries to trade in the post of prosecutor general or that my name can be used as an instrument of blackmail between the political parties. When I accepted the post of Prosecutor General, I told Mister Lupu and Mister Filat that I will never accept to be part of a political understanding. I imposed this condition not accidentally. I made a public commitment not to intervene in the investigation of criminal cases and to focus on the reformation and modernization of the institution. This way, I decided to protect myself from possible attempts to exert political pressure on me. Both of the statesmen accepted my position and assured me that I will have freedom to do my job and that they will help me carry out my plans. I count on the word and good faith of the two. I know them for a long time, respect them and have confidence in their promises.
- What kind of relations are there between you and Mister Filat, Mister Lupu?
- I’ve known Mister Filat since early youth, when we were students at the Law Faculty of the Iasi University “Alexandru Ioan Cuza”. Despite the age difference between us, we had good relations, but not very close. We communicated after we completed the studies. We weren’t connected through our jobs, but never turned the back to each other. I respect this man for the way in which he made political progress.
With Mister Lupu, we had food professional relations during the short period we worked together. I then left the post and we didn’t communicate much since then. But I think that he is also a skilful politician who keeps his word and I have all the reasons to think that when he asked me to apply for the post of prosecutor general, he did it with honesty, out of the wish to support the institution’s reformation.
- By the way, how did you become a candidate after serving as chairman of the commission for selecting the candidate?
- I was elected chairman by the commission members unanimously. I wasn’t designated by the Head of Parliament and Mister Lupu didn’t interfere in the commission’s work. I want to say I regret that the parliamentary commissions didn’t accept the candidate selected by contest, Mister Vitalie Pirlog. He has a rich experience and surprised the commission by the professional way in which he presented himself at the contest. He has very good and modern views as regards the work of the PGO and had the best performance among the candidatures. I think they made a mistake when they reacted swiftly and didn’t examine the commission’s arguments and the candidate’s performance. The parliamentary groups announced publicly that they do not support Mister Pirlog, but I didn’t see somebody to professionally explain this refusal. Mister Marian Lupu invited me to a discussion and offered me to apply for prosecutor general. He presented me his arguments. I asked for a period to think about it and accepted to be fielded after discussing with a number of persons, including with Mister Vlad Filat.
- Immediately after you were named, the press reported that a criminal case was started against you in the past. Would you comment?
- This is insinuation and gross manipulation. That information was furnished to the media intentionally, by somebody who was probably bothered by my appointment as their dishonest plans were ruined. I reassert that I was never invited or questioned by prosecution bodies and was never investigated as a suspect or accused in a legal case. I presented the criminal record and the PGO made this thing public. All my life I obeyed the law and the ethical-moral norms. For me, these are not simple words. These are perennial values that I will always respect.
I expected such dirty campaigns. They will probably go on, but I will not pay attention to them. The goal of these campaigns is evident and the people will draw conclusions themselves. Such denigrating campaigns would be planned against any of the candidate for this post. I don’t say that this is normal and I will make effort for things in this respect to change in society. I’m concerned that they attack not me personally, but the prosecution service. This is the goal. I said this in the meetings with representatives of the diplomatic corps. They have similar opinions.
- Do you think that the PGO can be depoliticized?
- Depoliticization is not done only by naming an apolitical prosecutor general. The independence and depoliticization is ensured by creating mechanisms aimed at blocking the attempts to exert political influence on all the prosecutors. Not even those naïve believe that the political pressure is exerted only on the manager of a certain institution. That’s why my priority now is to identify, together with my colleagues, efficient instruments for preventing such interference in the work of the prosecutors and the PGO in the future. I mean not only political interference, but also any kind of attempts to influence the prosecutors and the investigation.
- How much time would you need to reform the PGO?
- The reform process is a long one, but it is important that it be launched and constant work be done in this respect so that the stage of strategies and roundtable meetings is passed. I know what was done until now. There are relevant plans and policy documents. The prosecution service has its own strategic development plan approved by the Supreme Council of Prosecutors. I will name several tasks: to assess the achieved results, to continue what was good, to eradicate what was bad, and to implement new measures with immediate and average-term effect. We will evidently continue and even propose hastening the implementation of measures from the justice sector reform strategy, the national anti-corruption strategy and other policy documents concerning the prosecution service.
We will start internal reforms by optimizing, modernizing and reducing the own competences and will insist that no interference is made in the work of the prosecutors so that the autonomy and independence of the prosecution service is ensured. I think the prosecutors should be conferred the status of judge, with the classical elements of this status.
It is very important to restore society’s and every person’s confidence in the prosecution service, to ensure a new level of communication and transparency, and to rationalize and strengthen the role of the college and self-management bodies of the PGO.
I hope we will be asked out opinion when the new government program is worked out, as regards the reformation of the prosecution service. We will formulate proposals and new amendments to the legislation.
I will not take hasty measures. This is a complex system with important duties that affect the people’s fate and their rights. But things should be changed and this is what we will do, together with all those who sincerely want to contribute and become involved.
- I know that you had a number of meetings recently, including with the EU ambassador and the U.S. ambassador. What did you talk about?
- It was their initiative and I thank them for this. The meetings were constructive. I presented them my view about the work and reform at the PGO and asked them to provide support in reforming the institution. I was assured that they will offer all the assistance they can.
With the representative of the EU, Mister Dirk Schuebel, I discussed the implementation of the justice sector reform strategy and the EU assistance provided to Moldova in the field and the direct assistance offered through the high-level European expert who helps implement the reforms at the PGO. We discussed the work of the EUBAM, with whose representatives I had a separate meeting. We agreed to improve cooperation.
Mister William Moser, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the U.S., reiterated that the United States will continue to provide support in different areas, including those concerning the work of the PGO. We analyzed the main areas and the projects concerning the reformation of the prosecution service that are implemented in partnership with diverse nongovernmental organizations and highlighted a number of important work aspects. The ambassador stressed the U.S. wants to contribute to the efforts to improve the state of affairs in our country.
The discussions with the ambassadors mobilized me and gave me additional confidence. I was impressed how well they know the situation and by their sincere wish to help.
- What will you do if Parliament dismisses you on Thursday?
- I do not live by counting the days of Thursday or Friday. I will convene my colleagues and thank them and will go out through the central door of the PGO proudly. I always had what to do. I will resume my work in the civil society sector and in independent legal examination with pleasure. I will dedicate myself additionally to the reformation of the PGO. It would be a matter of honor. But the question about the future must be put to those who may decide to annul the vote that was given and validated. If such a decision is taken, it will relate not to me, but to the PGO and the status and future of this fundamental law enforcement institution. I’m sure that the members of Moldova’s Parliament must focus on the state interests and the people’s welfare, while the taken decisions should be based on these desiderata.
Valeriu Vasilică, IPN