Liberals pick with majority of votes Norica Nicolai as justice minister

Publish date: 17-12-2007
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National Liberal Party vice president and Senator Norica Nicolai was picked by the members of the party's central bureau to be Romania's justice minister; some 28 votes were cast in favor and one against.

Nicolai, a former prosecutor,was part of the Senate's legal committee. She is one of the party's strongest voices.

The justice minister position remained vacant after Tudor Chiuariu last week submitted his resignation. Chiuariu today said Nicolai is fit to take over the justice ministry helm. Prime Minister Calin Popescu Tariceanu, the head of PNL, declined to make any statements concerning the decision. Last week, Tariceanu was skeptical regarding the appointment of Nicolai.

President Traian Basescu sent a letter to the premier on December 6 requesting the dismissal of the justice and labor ministers both of them being under the magnifying lens of the country's anticorruption department (DNA).

Chiuariu was criticized for having requested the removal of a top prosecutor from the country's anticorruption body, a move which stirrred a wave of harsh criticism against the official.

The minister took over the position of independent Monica Macovei, the woman seen as the reformer of the judiciary in Romania. She was kicked out of the government along with Democrat ministers by fellow Liberals in a move to reshuflle the executive arm and after turmoil in the ruling Liberal-Democrat coalition.

Chiuariu is also investigated concerning the acquisition by the state-owned Post of a building in downtown Bucharest. The government issued an emergency ordinance a year ago allowing the transfer of the state-owned building to the Post company.

The official said allegations against him are groundless, adding that this is "nothing but a foolish revenge" after he had asked for the resignation of the top anticorruption prosecutor dealing with high level graft. He alleged "some people" use DNA as a political instrument.

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