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Under Laura Codruta Kovesi's leadership, conviction rates rose sharply in one of the European Union's most corruption-plagued members.

Romanian President Klaus Iohannis has signed a decree removing the chief anticorruption prosecutor from her post following a Constitutional Court ruling.

The president's office said on July 9 that National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA) Chief Prosecutor Laura Codruta Kovesi was dismissed to implement a ruling by Romania's top court, which had ordered it following accusations of incompetence.

"Constitutional Court rulings must be obeyed in a state that respects the rule of law. The president issued the decree to remove the chief prosecutor from post," presidential spokeswoman Madalina Dobrovolschi said.

Under Kovesi's leadership, conviction rates rose sharply in one of the European Union's most corruption-plagued members.

Justice Minister Tudorel Toader accused Kovesi in February of overstepping her authority and ordered her dismissal, but Iohannis rejected the order, saying it was unfounded.

The government then asked the Constitutional Court to rule on the issue.

The push to oust Kovesi has been criticized by the opposition and the European Commission and the Council of Europe.

Over the winter, thousands of Romanians took to the streets in support of Kovesi and to oppose her removal.

Protesters shout antigovernment slogans during a protest in front of the government headquarters in Bucharest on May 30, after the Constitutional Court ruled for Kovesi's removal.
Protesters shout antigovernment slogans during a protest in front of the government headquarters in Bucharest on May 30, after the Constitutional Court ruled for Kovesi's removal.

Dobrovolschi said the president "warned that irrespective of the name of the new chief anticorruption prosecutor, the DNA is obliged to continue its activity in a professional way, at the highest levels of performance."

Kovesi said on July 9 that her dismissal "was not a defeat."

"The independence of prosecutors is an incorruptible value," she added, flanked by dozens of prosecutors.

"The current political direction is not leaning toward an efficient justice system, but rather is aiming at blocking it," she said.

Kovesi said she would remain a prosecutor but not at the anticorruption agency. She called on her colleagues to continue their job.

She also made an appeal to ordinary Romanians. "Corruption can be beaten, don't give up!" she said.

With reporting by Reuters, AFP, AP and dpa
Oyub Titiyev leaves court after a hearing in Grozny on July 3.

Amid severe concern from fellow activists, the head of the human rights group Memorial's office in Chechnya is due to be tried on a drug-possession charge he contends was fabricated as a reprisal for his work in the tightly controlled Russian region.

A preliminary hearing in the trial of Oyub Titiyev was expected to be held on July 9 at a court in Grozny, Chechnya's capital.

The hearing was postponed from July 3 after Titiyev sought to move the trial to Moscow or another region, arguing that courts in Chechnya would be biased because senior officials in the region have essentially pronounced Titiyev guilty.

The top court in Chechnya, which is ruled by Kremlin-allied strongman Ramzan Kadyrov, rejected the request for a change of venue.

Titiyev has been in jail since his arrest in January, when police said they found marijuana in his car.

Titiyev and colleagues at Memorial accuse the police of planting the drugs, and the case is widely seen by Russian and international rights activists as punishment for his work exposing rights abuses in Chechnya.

Titiyev, 60, could be sentenced to 10 years in prison if convicted, and acquittals are very rare in Russian courts. Rights groups and Western governments have called on Russia to release him and end what they call his politically motivated prosecution.

Human Rights Watch has called the charges "bogus" and said the case "seems to be part of an effort by Chechen authorities to shut Memorial out of the region."

With reporting by Kommersant and Ekho Moskvy

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"Watchdog" is a blog with a singular mission -- to monitor the latest developments concerning human rights, civil society, and press freedom. We'll pay particular attention to reports concerning countries in RFE/RL's broadcast region.

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