„Stemma” of justice (II)

Promoţia anului 1997 a Facultăţii de Drept a USM. Foto: Arhiva USM
Author: Victor Moșneag, Anatolie Eșanu, Ziarul de Gardă
29/09/2017 23496

They were colleagues at the Law faculty, and now they are acting as judges, being opponents from the post of judges, lawyers or prosecutors. Though they say that the relationships of colleagues from the period of study do not influence on their professional activity in any way, several concrete cases prove that some judges and prosecutors have been promoted just in the period when their faculty colleagues served important posts in the justice system. You can see below the university colleagues of the chairman of the Supreme Court of Justice Mihai Poalelungi, of the General Prosecutor Eduard Harunjen and of the former Minister of Justice Oleg Efrim.

University colleagues of the chairman of the Supreme Court of Justice

Mihai Poalelungi, president of SCJ, at the General Meeting of Judges. Photo: zdg.md

For instance, chairman of the SCJ Mihai Poalelungi graduated from the Faculty of Law of the Moldova State University (USM) in 1988. Igor Dolea, judge at the Constitutional Court received the graduation diploma in the same year. In the past, Dolea was a member of the SCM, but also a member of the Qualification Board of the SCM. Another colleague of Poalelungi was Dumitru Graur, Chief Prosecutor of the Prosecution Service of the SCJ. Also, Graur  headed this service before the justice sector reform. Recently, he won the contest organized by the Superior Council of Prosecutors (SCP) and is to head  this service for the next five years. Dumitru Graur says that the relationship of colleagues with Poalelungi does not prevent him from being objective.

Also, Igor Serbinov, former deputy prosecutor of the general prosecutor in the period 2007-2016, current Chief of the Legal Department within the General Prosecutor’s Office (GP), was a university colleague with the head of the SCJ and with his current colleague from the Prosecutor's Office, Dumitru Graur. Among Poalelungi's faculty colleagues, we find former prosecutor Mihail Cantir, prosecuted for passive corruption, but acquitted in 2013 by a final decision issued by the SCJ. The trial to SCJ was filed by Dumitru Graur on behalf of the General Prosecutor’s Office.

SCJ judge Ion Guzun was a faculty colleague of Poalelungi. Guzun was promoted to SCJ in 2014, although he had the lowest score among the five candidates enrolled in the contest, only 57, while the other four had over 74 points, being assessed by the Board for Judges’ Selection and Career. Judge Eugeniu Clim from CA Chisinau, Vasile Vulpe, dismissed from office in 2011, Ion Dandara, who left the system in 2014, Tudor Leahu, who resigned 2016, Boris Timbalari, Iurie Vizitiu or Ion Bosii, but also a number of former or current less known lawyers graduated the Law Faculty of USM in 1988. Ion Bosii's son, Dumitru, is a magistrate at the Cahul Court. One of the lawyers who were faculty colleagues of Poalelungi, Vladimir Darii, represented several times the interests of his clients at SCJ, some decisions being taken by his former colleagues. "President Poalelungi  did not meet Vladimir Darii since they graduated the university. President Poalelungi is working in the Civil, Commercial and Administrative Board, and does not have any connection with criminal cases", said SCJ.

Colleagues Resetnicov, Efrim, Sternioala and Melniciuc

The class of the year 1997 of the Law Faculty of the USM gave the Moldovan justice known lawyers, judges or prosecutors. The former Minister of Justice, Oleg Efrim ,  judge Oleg Melniciuc, former  chairman of the Riscani Court in Chisinau, Oleg Sternioala, former chairman of the Buiucani Court based  in Chisinau and Vladislav Clima, magistrate at CA Chisinau, he is also the son of former SCJ judge Nicolae Clima, the current head of the Judicial Inspection of the SCM received graduation diplomas in 1997.

One of their colleagues was Artur Resetnicov, the current democratic MP, former head of the Intelligence and Security Service. Resetnicov held several important positions in the Apparatus of the President of the Republic of Moldova during the period 2001-2007,  he was head of the General Directorate, Legal Advisor and Chief of the Law and Public Relations Division. Coincidentally or not, but during this period, some of the former colleagues became judges, appointed by the decrees of Vladimir Voronin. For example, Oleg Sternioala became a judge in June 2001, and in 2006 he was appointed deputy chairman, and  in 2008 following the opinion of SIS managed by  Resetnicov, he was appointed chairman of the Buiucani District Court. Oleg Melniciuc was elected judge in 2004, and two years later, by the president's decree, he was elected deputy chairman in the same court. The class of the year 1997 included former judge Sergiu Crutco, dismissed after he investigated young people in the commissariats on April 7, 2009. He was appointed judge in 2005.

Lawyers Dorian Chirosca, Vitalie Ciofu, Oleg Chicu, Daniel Martin, former members of the Judiciary Inspection at SCM, Valeriu Catan and Ion Tutunaru, prosecutor Mariana Gornea, newly elected head of the Section of juvenile justice, former communist MP Igor Vremea, former minister of Justice, Vladimir Grosu, and the current magistrate Silvia Garbu, recently promoted at CA Chisinau, graduated the Law Faculty in 1997. The class of the year 1997 includes Valentin Zubic, former deputy minister of Internal Affairs, judge of SCJ Nadejda Toma, Stela Blesceaga, magistrate at Chisinau Court.

Efrim: „ We were good, so what?”Reșetnicov: „ I am proud of all colleagues”

From left to right, lawyer Daniel Martin, Alina Sarga, Oleg Efrim  and judge Oleg Sternioala

"The fact that we were colleagues does not mean that we have other relationships than lawyer- judge. You cannot admit that there is a conflict of interests just because you were one’s colleague. Yes, it cannot be ruled out that it may be, but it does not necessarily exist. We had situations when this was a reason for a recusal because we were former colleagues with some judges. The magistrates who examined the appeal considered that the mere fact that we were colleagues is not a reason of recusal. If we are god fathers, it can be approached differently", says former Justice Minister Oleg Efrim. He believes that the class of the year 1997 was a good one, which gave some ministers, MPs, chairmen of courts, judges at the Supreme Court. "We were good, so what?" added Efrim.

The current democratic MP Artur Resetnicov says that he did not favor his university colleagues and did not benefit from their help. "We all have studied different fields - jurisprudence, architecture, economics, journalism. It's not a problem that you studied at a certain faculty at the State University. If you studied with another hundred people, it does not mean that they were favored during the activity. Besides colleagues serving as judges, I have many colleagues acting as lawyers, policemen, prosecutors, notaries, journalists who have studied Law. I was not the one to decide, I was not the one who signed the appointment or promotion of people. The functions I served did not enable me to appoint or promote someone. It has nothing to do with it. I am proud of all colleagues who serve in different areas ", said the MP.

Faculty colleagues of the general prosecutor

Eduard Harunjen, general prosecutor of the Republic of Moldova  graduated the Law Faculty at the USM in 1994. Faculty colleagues of the current head of General Prosecutor’s office are many lawyers, judges and prosecutors who handled or handle important cases. Thus, magistrates of Chisinau Court Victor Boico, Gheorghe Balan, Dorel Musteata, current member of SCM studied with Harunjen. Another faculty colleague of the general prosecutor is judge Dumitru Gherasim, chairman of Court Balti.

Aureliu Colenco, former chairman of the Economic Court of Appeal, has been accused of taking dubious decisions and subsequently dismissed, as well as Victor Orandas, another magistrate with controversial past, wanted in the laundry case of  the $ 20 billion lei, were faculty colleagues with the current general prosecutor. Also, among the graduates of the Law Faculty at the USM are: the lawyer Ion Vazdoaga who represented in court the interests of several well-known defendants, defender Igor Pohila, who joined "Our Party" led by Renato Usatai, Sergiu Mocanu, a lawyer who has been charged with various criminal cases and Anatolie Ceachir, who defended several policemen, including Ion Perju, convicted in Valeriu Boboc's death case, but he managed to flee. "I graduated 24 or 25 years ago. We have a tradition to meet with our former colleagues every five years at the graduates’ party. The teachers also come. There are not conflicts of interest in this case. For example, some of my colleagues are wanted, some of them I ordered to be wanted. Period of study does not affect my work", said Harunjen.

President of CA Chisinau in judicial panels with former colleagues

Ghenadie Lisii and Ion Plesca, members of the same judiciary panel. Photo capture: jurnaltv.md

Deputy-head of Eduard Harunjen, Igor Popa graduated  the Law Faculty in 1999. He studied with prosecutors Radu Talpa, Pavel Vinitchi, Corneliu Bratunov and Adrian Mircos.  The latter has been recently appointed head-prosecutor at the Criminal Division of General Prosecutor’s Office (GP), for a 5 year mandate and will be the subordinate of his former colleague. Igor Popa is deputy head of the general prosecutor, employed in the Criminal Division.  Popa has been colleague of judge Mihail Diaconu from Chisinau Court, the one, who like Igor Popa had an important role to prosecute youth in commissariats after April 7, 2009 events. The prosecutor then signed a motion to judge the young people in the commissariats, and the magistrate executed it. Nicolae Chitoroaga,  current head of PCCOCS, graduated the Law Faculty  at the USM in 1992 and studied together with the judge from  SCJ Ion Druta, magistrate at Chisinau Court, based in Ciocana,  Iurie Obada and with prosecutor Viorel Tureac, head of Balti Prosecution.

Ion Plesca, president of CA Chisinau, graduated the Law Faculty at the USM in 1985, together with his current colleagues from the Appeal Court Ghenadie Lisii and Anatolie Pahopol. In 2017, based on an order signed by Plesca, he is in the court panel with Lisii. Previously, in at least one case, Plesca was in the same panel with Anatolie Pahopol. Nina Arabadji, judge at the Chisinau District Court, based in Rascani, prosecutor Anatol Parnau and lawyer Oleg Lozan received diplomas at the Law Faculty. Asked about the fact that he is part of the same panel with a former faculty colleague, Ion Plesca told us: "I and Mr. Pahopol were not in the same panel, he was in  the Civil Board and I was in the Criminal Board.  I was and I am with Lisii in the same panel, which is not a problem. That does not matter ", says Plesca.

In a written reply, the SCJ requests that "in the article you are about to publish, consider that during the Soviet period and immediately after, there was only one law faculty in Moldova. Also, please keep in mind the low number of graduates and that human relationships should be in everyday life as people are social being. It may happen that lawyers often come into contact with lawyers, not with representatives of other professions.

The investigation was accomplished under the project "Mobilizing Civil Society to Support Integrity in the Justice Sector in Moldova", carried out by the Center for Investigative Journalism and Freedom House, with the financial support of the US State Department.


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