A controversial Romanian investigative agency has summoned the country's former chief anticorruption prosecutor, a front-runner in the race to lead the newly formed EU antifraud office, for a second hearing in less than a month.
Laura Codruta Koevesi appeared on March 7 before the newly formed agency that investigates potential crimes committed by magistrates as a suspect in a case where she is accused of abuse of office, bribery, and false testimony.
“I am accused of running an organized crime group inside the National Anticorruption Directorate [DNA],” she told reporters after the hearing, which comes as the European Parliament and representatives of EU member states started talks to choose the head of the new European Public Prosecutor's Office.
Critics have said that Koevesi was subpoenaed in order to smear her record and diminish her chances of getting the Brussels position.
Koevesi already appeared once in court on February 15, the same day she had been due in Brussels to present her candidacy for the EU prosecutor job.
Koevesi headed the DNA for five years until last year, when she was dismissed by the leftist government.
Many observers saw her dismissal as an attempt to sideline her after the DNA's conviction rates for high-level graft jumped across the political spectrum during her tenure in one of the bloc's most corrupt countries, drawing EU praise.
Critics say her dismissal was also meant to prevent the DNA from convicting more senior members of the governing alliance, including the leader of the ruling Social Democratic Party.
Liviu Dragnea, who is also speaker of the lower house of parliament, has been convicted of abuse of power with the help of the DNA and has a second pending sentence for corruption.
Romania's government, which currently holds the rotating EU presidency, has also actively campaigned against Koevesi's candidacy for the European prosecutor post.
Several members of the European Parliament representing Romania's ruling coalition launched verbal attacks against Koevesi during a hearing on February 26, accusing her of abuse of power and lying, but failing to prevent her from winning the backing of the European Parliament for the EU prosecutor job.
Representatives of the EU lawmakers are starting talks on March 7 with the European Council, comprising representatives of all 28 EU member states, to agree on choosing either Koevesi or French prosecutor Francois Bohnert, who is the council's choice, for the European prosecutor job.
The same day, in an unusual move, Romanian Justice Minister Tudorel Toader published an open letter in the Financial Times accusing Koevesi of using "coercion" to achieve a high conviction rate in corruption cases.
Toader has been widely criticized for his relentless attacks against the rule of law and his attempts to reverse antigraft legislation, which culminated in his firing of Koevesi.