The Superior Council of Magistracy (SCM) examined on Tuesday, December 6th, the resignation requests of 16 judges. During the meeting, 13 resignation applications were approved, 2 requests were delayed and one withdrawn. Originally, only 9 applications for resignation from office were recorded for the meeting, and subsequently, the SCM agenda was completed.
Thus, the following magistrates decided to leave the judicial system: the magistrates of the Supreme Court of Justice, Iuliana Oprea and Valentina Clevadî; the magistrates of the Chișinău Court of Appeal, Borislav Babenco, Victor Pruteanu, Evghenii Sanduța, Nichifor Corochii and Vladimir Brașoveanu; the magistrates of the Court of Appeal from Bălţi, Vera Toma şi Ana Albu; the judges Ludmila Cernei (Ciocana), Serghei Procopciuc (Orhei), Dumitru Mârzenco (Strășeni) and Grigore Șișcanu (Nisporeni).
Also, the resignation requests of the judge Alexandru Gheorghieș, from Bălţi Court of Appeal and of the judge Vasile Șchiopu from Ungheni Court, were postponed.
The magistrate Elena Tverdohleb from Briceni Court, withdrew her resignation request.
The magistrates of the Supreme Court of Justice were paid both, salary and pension
Two magistrates left the Supreme Court of Justice, Iuliana Oprea and Valentina Clevadî, who were mentioned here earlier. Although among the reasons that prompted the resignation of the two magistrates is pension reform, this reason can’t be plausible, since both judges were getting paid their pension.
Oprea is among those magistrates, who requested cheap apartments.
Oprea is one of the judges, on the name of whom most complaints were filed and at protest from March of 2013, a group of 80 young people chanted that "Oprea and the law are incompatible", demanding her resignation from office. According to the newspaper "Молдавские ведомости" Iuliana Oprea, alongside with the judges, Vera Macinskaia and Nicolae Clima, are the top 3 most corrupt judges from the Supreme Court of Justice. The last two are no longer working in the institution.
The companies associated with Clevadî, have won several contracts with the state. In 2013, Aur Alb has had a contract with the Executive Committee of Gagauzia worth 524 400 lei for wheat storage services. Also in 2013, Yol Yapagisa had an acquisition contract worth 10 thousand lei, with the Municipality of Ceadir-Lunga, for cleaning and sanitizing services. The Hermes Group is also a beneficiary of the contracts with the state. In 2015 the Group won contracts worth 1.8 million lei. The total value of Daac Hermes contracts with the state is about 14.4 million lei.
The liberal MP Ion Apostol (with 304 shares), the socialist MP Eduard Smirnov (with 464 shares) and three other judges of the Supreme Court of Justice, are also associated with Daac Hermes.
With what fortunes, the magistrates of the Chișinău Court of Appeal are leaving the system
The highest number of requests for resignation came from the Chișinău Court of Appeal. Thus, the institution will remain with 5 judges: Borislav Babenco, Victor Pruteanu, Evghenii Sanduța, Vladimir Brașoveanu and Nichifor Corochii.
One of the most known cases of Babenco's career has been linked to the escape of Russian blogger Eduard Bagirov, accused of instigating the events from April of 2009. The judge was accused of placing Baghirov from cell to house arrest and he escaped immediately after changing the measure of arrest. The SCM subsequently decided that Babenco acted legally.
Pruteanu's merits in court, are not equivalent with the fortune he gathered. He is one of the judges, on the name of whom most complaints were filed by citizens. Thus on Pruteanu’s name, about 32 complaints were filed, 25 of which were rejected.
Pruteanu is among the magistrates who reviewed the case "Diaspora vs Moldova". Along with the judges Natalia Simciuc and Iulia Cimpoi, he rejected several requests of the lawyers representing the interests of 143 citizens from abroad who could not exercise their right to vote.
During the parliamentary elections from 2014, Renato Usatîi said that Pruteanu was supposed to decide whether his party will participate in the election or not.
The anticorruption prosecutors carried out searches on Pruteanu’s office in 2013, suspecting him of receiving an air conditioner as a bribe, from a person he called a trustee for a firm which was in the process of insolvency. However, in less than three months, the case was closed. During the criminal investigation of this case Pruteanu sel-suspended from office.
3 cases that reached the ECHR will remain in Pruteanu’s career.
In just 4 years of activity in the judiciary system, Sanduța purchased immovable properties of over 1 million lei.
Before working in the Chișinău Court of Appeal, Evghenii Sanduța has served as President of the Criuleni Court. He judged the so-called “watermelon case” as a result of which, a couple was sentenced to five years in prison for allegedly stealing three watermelons.
Another incident that involved the magistrate's name was linked to the detention in 2014 of a lawyer from Chisinau, for influence peddling. Supposedly, the woman claimed from her client 2,000 euros to influence the court’s decision on the custody of her children. The lawyer promised that she could determine the head of the Criuleni Court (Sanduța), to examine the case himself and take a favorable decision.
This year, Brașoveanu’s fortune drew the National Integrity Commission’s attention. It concerns the income statement of the judge in 2014. According to the NIC act, in the income statement from 2014, Brașoveanu did not include any of the goods he listed in 2015, although at that time they were already in his property. As a result, the NIC found a deliberate violation of the legal regime of declaration of income by Braşoveanu by indicating inaccurate and incomplete date in the income statement. Also, the NIC was supposed to report this case to the General prosecutor’s Office. Braşoveanu explained that he didn’t indicate these goods because he had indicated them in other statements from previous years.
Vladimir Braşoveanu is one of the judges involved in processing the cases from April of 2009. While working in the Chisinau Central Court, Braşoveanu attended the trial of the ex-Interior Minister Gheorghe Papuc and the former general commissioner Vladimir Botnari.
Thus, along with two other judges (Ion Busuioc and Ștefan Niță), Braşoveanu Braşoveanu acquitted Papuc and Botnari in a case on their activities during the events from April 7th. Braşoveanu also acquitted another policeman (Radu Starinschi), accused of mistreating a person during the events of April 7th.
Corochii was a part of the panel, which examined the case of the former Prime Minister Vlad Filat.
In the period of time from 2012 to 2013, Corochii was the president of the SCM, where he has replaced Nicolae Timofti. He got to the SCM, being detached from Edineţ District Court. The incident from Pădurea Domnească happened when he was leading the SCM. According to the media, Corochii was aware that the businessman Sorin Paciu was mortally wounded by the magistrate George Cretu, but did not ordered his suspension from office. Corochii did not suspend the President of the Court of Appeal, Ion Plesca either, who also participated in the hunting from December 23rd of 2012 along with former General Prosecutor Valeriu Zubko.
Also, while leading the SCM, Corochii won a case in the Chisinau Court of Appeal, in a case asking the National Social Insurance House to increase his pension. Thus, he asked a pension based on his salary as the head of the SCM, which was three times more than his pension as a judge.
According to an investigation published by anticoruptie.md, Corochii is one of the judges with "nine lives", having a career on the rise, despite being involved in public scandals. In 2006, former President Vladimir Voronin rejected his candidacy for the position of the head of Edineț Court, on the ground that he had ties with businessmen involved in shady businesses.
Bălţi Court of Appeal lost two judges2 magistrates decided to leave the Bălţi Court of Appeal: Vera Toma and Ana Albu.
In 2013 and 2014, Vera Toma declared 3 agricultural pieces of land, registered on the name of Toma I., the total value of which is over 55 thousand lei. In 2015, the income from the sale was not stated, but the land does not appear in the declaration. Also in 2014, indicated the 51 shares of Carnevarus Ltd., also registered on her name.
The wealth of the District and Sector Courts judgesEven more judges from the District and Sector Courts have filed resignation requests, which were approved yesterday by the SCM. These are: Ludmila Cerna from Ciocana District Court, Sergei Procopciuc from Orhei District Court, Dumitru Mârzenco from Straseni District Court, Grigore Şişcanu from Nisporeni Court and Vasile Şchiopu from Ungheni Court.
Ludmila Cerna’s daughter also activates in the judiciary system, as a Judge at the Buiucani Sector Court. Olga Cernei became magistrate in 2014, at only 27 years old. She declared the same goods as her mother, including the service.
Cerna was also involved in the adjudication of the cases related to the events from the 7th of April, 2009. In 2011, the Human Rights Institute and Promo-LEX filed a complaint to the SCM against Ludmila Cernei, because on the 8th of April 2009, she applied the preventive arrest measure for 3 days of a citizen, ignoring the fact that the young man had visible injuries, and 3 days of administrative arrest of another citizen, without checking the legality of his arrest. According to the two associations, Cerna along with other judges, examined superficially the accusations of the police officers against the young people, did not check the legality of their arrest, did not provide them with the assistance of any lawyers and examined cases in the absence of the court clerk.
Procopciuc was among the judges who heard the case on the murder of the interlope Alexei Veretca, alias "Krasavcik", a member of a criminal group who was shot near a restaurant in Orhei Woods. The democrat MP Constantin Ţuţu was accused in this case. Procopciuc was the presiding judge who examined the case, and in October of 2014 his office was set on fire.
According ZDG, the magistrate did not exclude the fact that the office might have been burned down on purpose to destroy evidence in this criminal case, but later, the magistrate said that he doesn’t know anything about what might have caused the incident, and that the arson case was suspended.
In May of 2016, the Orhei District Court acquitted Ţuţu, because "the defendant’s act does not meet the elements of the offense".
In 2015, Procopciuc was disciplinary amerced by the SCM.
The reason for resignation: pension reform
The wave of resignations in the judicial system are based on a government decision on reforming the pension system, whereby judges pension will be reduced significantly, and the retirement age will be increased. According to the amendments approved by the Government, the judges would retire like all the other categories of employees. If until now their pension was calculated amounting 55-80% of their salary, in the future, it will constitute about 30% of the salary. Moreover, the judges indemnity paid on their dismissal or retirement, may be canceled.
These legislative changes were not supported by the SCM, but still the government approved the reform.
According to the press reports, several judges said they are leaving the system because of these changes. However, of the 13 judges whose resignation requests were approved yesterday by the SCM, 7 were already receiving pensions. Thus, in 2015, these judges were paid pensions as follows:
Iuliana Oprea, SCJ: 162 thousand lei
Valentina Clevadî, SCJ: 170 thousand lei
Vera Toma, Bălţi Court of Appeal: 154 thousand lei
Nichifor Corochii, Chișinău Court of Appeal: 149 thousand lei
Mârzenco Dumitru, Străşeni Court: 120 thousand lei
Grigore Şişcanu, Nisporeni Court: 125 thousand lei
Vasile Şchiopu, Ungheni Court: 25 thousand lei