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Front-Runner For EU Prosecutor Questioned By Controversial Romanian Agency

Laura Codruta Koevesi talks to reporters after appearing in front of the Section for the Investigation of Criminal Offenses in Bucharest on February 15.

Romania's former chief anticorruption prosecutor was questioned on February 15 by a controversial investigative agency, hours before flying to Brussels for an interview for the newly established job of EU public prosecutor.

Laura Codruta Koevesi headed Romania's National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA) for five years until last year, when she was dismissed by the leftist government in what many observers say was an attempt to sideline her after the DNA's conviction rates for high-level graft jumped across the political spectrum during her tenure, drawing EU praise.

Koevesi has now emerged as the front-runner to get the newly established job of head of the European Public Prosecutor's Office, due to become operational at the end of 2020.

The new EU agency will tackle financial fraud across the European Union.

On February 12, just days after it was revealed that Koevesi was the leading contender for the new EU post, the newly established and much-criticized Section for the Investigation of Criminal Offenses in the Romanian judiciary subpoenaed her for hearings on February 15 as a suspect in a corruption case.

The agency said she is accused of demanding a bribe to pay for the repatriation several years ago of a Romanian accused of corruption who had fled the country.

Koevesi said the the summons was "clearly an attempt to stop my candidacy for EU prosecutor."

The accusation against her, the agency says, was registered based on a denunciation made by another fugitive former Romanian politician and businessman who has fled to neighboring Serbia, despite the fact that Romanian police officially admitted they had paid for the repatriation of the accused.

Koevesi left for Brussels later in the day after being questioned by the agency.

Several hundred people rallied in her support on February 15 outside the government headquarters in Bucharest, the scene of huge anticorruption protests in 2017 and 2018.

The European Commission and the U.S. Embassy have warned the investigative agency in Bucharest that its actions were being closely watched.

With reporting by, Reuters, and AFP
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