Romania Attorney General Retires Amid Collaboration Row

Romania's Attorney General Augustin Lazar. Photo: EPA-EFE/ROBERT GHEMENT

The High Magistrates Council in Romania on Thursday accepted a request submitted by Attorney General Augustin Lazar, 63, to retire following a row over his alleged collaboration with the former communist regime.

He served as a prosecutor during the communist era and is accused of having refused to grant parole to political detainees during that era. His mandate ends on April 27. President Klaus Iohannis appointed him in April 2016.

An ally of former anti-corruption chief prosecutor Laura Codruta Kovesi, Lazar has come under attack for opposing plans by the ruling Social Democrats to overhaul the justice system and relax the fight against corruption.

After Kovesi was fired in July 2018, she joined Lazar's office as head of the anti-corruption policies department.

On October 2018, Justice Minister Tudorel Toader said he was planning to fire Lazar and sent President Iohannis an official request. The President rejected it, saying he was satisfied with the Attorney General's performance.

In March 2019, Lazar submitted a bid for a new mandate. Toader rejected him and all the other candidates and renewed the call for applicants.

Meanwhile, Lazar has been engulfed in controversy after a website close to the Social Democrats revealed on April 1 that he had served as a prosecutor on several parole committees in the communist era.

These reportedly refused to grant release to several political detainees from Aiud Prison, one of the toughest Romanian communist detention facilities.

Lazar said he never collaborated with the former communist secret police. Following the row, the National Council for the Study of the Securitate Files has opened a new...

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