Moldova's top prosecutor has been suspended and detained for alleged corruption as President Maia Sandu vowed that nobody in the Eastern European country would remain above the law.
Prosecutor-General Alexandru Stoianoglo was taken to a pretrial detention facility in the capital, Chisinau, on October 5 after masked men from the country's intelligence and security service searched his office and home.
Anti-corruption prosecutor Victor Furtuna said Stoianoglo was accused of abuse of office, exceeding official duties, corruption, and making false statements.
President Maia Sandu hailed the move, saying every citizen had to respond before the law for any crimes committed, regardless of his position.
"As president of the country, I want what the citizens want: strict respect for the law, no abuses, and lawfully punishing whoever committed abuses," she said in a Facebook message.
Sandu later signed a decree appointing Dumitru Robu, a former anti-corruption prosecutor and deputy head of the Chisinau prosecutor's office who was nominated by the High Council of Prosecutors, as Stoianoglo's acting replacement.
The 41-year-old Robu pledged to investigate high-profile cases and "make efforts" to improve the Prosecutor-General's Office's reputation.
Stoianoglo was appointed in 2019 by the former president, the Moscow-backed Igor Dodon.
Sandu defeated Dodon in an election in November 2020 on a platform of reforms and tackling corruption as she seeks to bring Moldova closer to the West.
Justice Minister Serdgiu Litvinenco accused Stoianoglo of being a "puppet in the hands of large corrupt officials and thieves who have been robbing Moldova for decades."
Dodon said the government had made a "fatal political mistake," accusing Sandu of capturing state institutions.
"Today we are convinced how dangerous it is for the rule of law when the dictatorship camouflages itself in democracy and the usurpation of power hides behind pro-European slogans," he said in a Facebook post.
Moldova, Europe's poorest country, has been dogged by instability and corruption scandals in recent years, including the disappearance of $1 billion from the banking system.