The 2004 report of the Military Court of Appeal accuses the Ministry of National Defense of influencing justice and affecting the independence of judges. As a result of our insistence, CMA published the institution’s activity report, which was missing from their website until a few days ago, although it’s a public document. The report partially confirms the complaints of the Romanian Center for Investigative Journalism regarding the interference of Deputy Prime Minister Gabriel Oprea in the military justice. The document explains the abusive and illegal manner through which some military magistrates are preferentially promoted, and the generals are judged only by the two CMA judges.
Explosive situation in the Military Court of Appeal, after the publication of the article regarding the interference of Deputy Prime Minister Gabriel Oprea in the cases involving generals: in turn, CMA accuses the MapN of interfering in the affairs of justice and of manipulating the cases concerning generals. The accusation appears in CMA’s 2014 activity report, published a few days ago, upon RCIJ insistence and after the publication of the article concerning Deputy Prime Minister Gabriel Oprea.
The CMA report shows that a situation was created „ seriously affecting the functioning of the courts”. The College Board of the Military Court of Appeal decided to assign the cases involving general as defendants to the two judges with the rank of general, Gheorghe Manea and Cezarian Buga. The remaining judges, with lower ranks cannot judge generals. This violates the statute of magistrates, which provides that judges of courts of appeal are equal and have equal powers. The discrimination of the CMA judges is even more serious as, for example, a special law allows military prosecutors in the National Anticorruption Directorate to investigate any person, regardless of their military rank. Such a provision does not exist for the Military Court of Appeal.
The outraged judges of the CMA brought action against the Decision of the CMA College, which also affects the random distribution of cases. This anti-corruption principle reduces the possibility for a case to get to an interested or manipulated magistrate.
MApN chooses the judges
What’s even more incredible is that MapN, whose budget also funds the CMA, basically agrees with the discrimination of magistrates. By maintaining the current situation, the Ministry of Defense can choose the judges for the really heavy cases, the ones involving generals. ”Although the request (CMA’s, Ed.) was addressed to the Minister of National Defense, the response of the State Secretary in the ministry, who is a legal counselor, namely an attorney, was in the sense of distributing these cases to the two judges with the rank of general. It is a serious interference into justice by a politician, likely to affect judicial independence (…) by refusing to address this problem”, shows the CMA report.
It’s simple: the smaller the number of the panel of judges, the higher the risks of influencing them. How are military judges influenced? Through the organizational chart and the compensation plan. ”Through rules and circumstances unknown to the magistrates in the Military Court of Appeal, it has come to the situation where people are promoted even after their term of office and to higher ranks than the ones provided in the status for the other judges, who perform the same work and who were part of the same panels, judging the same cases”, shows the CMA report.
The judge promoted after his term of office as president of the Military Court of Appeal is Cezarian Buga, who became a three star general lieutenant. Deputy Prime Minister Gabriel Oprea personally intervened with the Minister of Defense to promote Buga. The CMA report emphasizes that this type of promotions are made “retroactively, without transparency, in violation of the military hierarchy and the principles of morality and fairness and without the assent of the Superior Council of Magistracy”.
Magistrate Buga is one of the two judges in the CMA judging the cases involving generals, among which the heads of the secret services. Buga got directly for trial the case of the head of military spies, General Marian Hăpău. The Judicial Inspection verified and notified in April 2015 this aspect which affects the independence of military justice. Recently, the judicial inspectors performed a new inspection of the CMA, which concerns the failure to comply with the random distribution of cases and the failure to abstention of judges. Cezarian Buga and Gheorghe are among the judges who were required to give statements. General Buga filed a request for pension calculation with the Directorate for Military Courts in the event of his retirement.