Though the Judiciary Inspection found no violations in the distribution of cases, data from the Integrated Case Management Program show the existence of several problems.
The program of random distribution of cases works perfectly, says the Judiciary Inspection (IJ) that verified the registration and distribution of cases in Moldovan Courts within 9 months, based on the Integrated Case Management Program (PIGD).
Inspection findings come a few weeks after the General Prosecutor announced that he had sent to court a criminal case concerning Iurie Turcan, Judge of Riscani District Court, allegedly involved in defrauding the system of random distribution of cases. Prosecution has a "stand-by” case of another judge, former Vice President of the Supreme Court Svetlana Filincov, suspected of the same "sins".
We got information from the Center of Special Telecommunications (CTS) about manipulations admitted in the process of cases distribution and the data from this Center are different from those submitted by the Judiciary Inspection.
Manipulations in the PIGD
Once they have analyzed the registration and the distribution of some thousands of cases in Moldovan courts, the staff from IJ provided a report of 16 pages in which they speak about the importance of PIGD implemented in Republic of Moldova with the support of USAID and they found that the company had exaggerated when it talked about manipulations in the program.
"The analysis did not detect any deliberate actions with the purpose of manipulating the data in the program or to influence the random assignment of cases to concrete judges ", reads the report discussed at the meeting of the Superior Council of Magistracy (CSM) on 24 November.
The report was drawn up, but it was based on the analysis of the situation in just five courts in Chisinau. Even if CSM had requested a control on 10 February at the Court of Appeal Chisinau and the Supreme Court of Justice, these 2 courts were not inspected by the judiciary. The reason - the CTS, an institution which is under the Ministry of Justice, ignored the request to provide information about them.
Month of manipulations
Graphical data from the report show that PIGD registered the worst results in December 2014 when only 90.77% of the cases were distributed only once based on the program, compared to an average of over 93% in other months. In that period, there appeared the scandal related to the ex-Vice-President of the Supreme Court of Justice, Svetlana Filincov accused by the president of CSM Victor Micu, of abuse of power and abuse of office, through manipulations with criminal cases worth million dollars.
Micu filed a complaint at the National Anti-Corruption Center and notified the institution about disclosure of a scheme of illegal distribution of cases in courts in Chisinau.
The Anticorruption Prosecutor Adrian Popenco says that the case is still investigated , and the judge who resigned from the post of Vice-President of the court after the scandal, does not have any standing to bring proceedings.
Also, in December 2014, at the request of the general prosecutor Corneliu Gurin, CSM agreed to start the criminal investigation of former judge of Riscani District Court, Iurie Turcan (involved in " Russian money laundering" by issuing an order to recover 700 million USD ), for abuse in office and manipulation in PIGD.
On 27 November, the first hearing in the case Turcan was supposed to take place, but it was postponed due to absence of the sides.
The second hearing is scheduled for today, December 4.
Serious problems in Leova and Comrat
According to information processed by CTS, which I got in December 2014, several courts in the republic registered a record number of situations in which cases reached the judges not after the first distribution based on the program, but after two, three and even five attempts.
The most alarming situation was at Leova District Court, where out of the total number of cases brought to court, only 19.12% were distributed at the first attempt, 61.13% - at the second, 15.76% - at the third, and 3.99% - after four or more attempts.
The judge in whose favor they did most manipulations is Maria Galupa. According to the CTS, magistrates received from first distribution- 51 cases, after two attempts of distribution- 288 cases, at the third attempt -75 cases and 19 cases - after several attempts.
Aliona Grosu, the person in charge with the cases assignment in Leova Court, explained that in that month, a judge of the court has been suspended from office and the cases were redeployed. However, she could not give an explanation for cases distributed 3-4 and more times.
Court of Appeal Comrat had the same situation. Only 45.86% of cases reached the judges after the first distribution through PIGD in conditions when the average in other courts in the country is about 93%. Most cases distributed at two, three or more attempts in this court are investigated by Magistrate Elena Dimin.
600 blockages at the Court
In Riscani District Court, manipulation of the PIGD started in December 2014 by means of blocking certain magistrates. Of the 2,000 cases that came to court in the last month last year, in over 600 cases (30%), 24-26 judges were blocked to investigate cases, so that the case reached only one or two magistrates.
Most often, cases have reached young judges, Veronica Jomiru-Niculita and Denis Babalau. In 2013, the President of the Republic refused twice to accept promotion of Denis Babalau from the Drochia District Court to the Military Court.
At the beginning of 2015, the Tax Inspectorate filed a complaint to the Judiciary Inspection on actions of Judge Veronica Jomiru Niculita for how she judged a case which she received in December 2014. Moreover, the magistrate examined the case 3 days later after she received it. The case concerned a private company penalized by the Tax Inspectorate for several infringements.
On 11 December 2014, masked men from the National Anticorruption Center went to Riscani District Court and performed searches in a case related to random distribution of cases.
Why did the Inspection keep silent?
The report of the Judiciary Inspection does not say anything about these cases. The inspectors say that there are some cases in this court “which generated an increased public interest in society", incidents, that "according to the press, were investigated by the prosecution".
The report of the Inspection did not explain those 600 cases from the Riscani District Court where 24-26 judgers were blocked on the ground that they were incompatible. Instead, it explains a similar situation at the Centru District Court, where, during 2014 there were several cases of preventing 15-18 Judges from distribution of cases. No such case was reported in this court until December 2014.
Dumitru Visternicean, member of the Superior Council of Magistracy:
"I had a positive reaction when I saw the report of the Judiciary Inspection. When media wrote about frauding PIGD, I requested control. I requested controls at the Supreme Court of Justice and at the Court of Appeal but nothing was done. However, you should know that it's very difficult to prove a case of fraud in the program, and when it happens, the decisions taken in the cases distributed based on program fraud cannot be canceled. To my knowledge, there was no case of disciplinary sanctioning of a judge for defrauding the program of random distribution of cases".
Oleg Melniciuc, president of Riscani District Court:
"In 2014 and at the beginning of 2015, I ordered that contravention offenses to be distributed to new judges. Judges with work experience had already overtasks. This solution is good to ensure the examination of cases in set terms. This was discussed at CSM and the only complaint was that this measure had to be agreed with them. I can assure you that since I'm president of the court, no case has been blocked because of some interests."
The investigation was carried out within the Campaign "Journalists for Transparency in Public Funds Management", carried out by the Center for Investigative Journalism, with the support of the US Embassy in the Republic of Moldova.