Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Wheels of Justice

"The wheels of justice grind slow but they grind fine"

This is a quote variously attributed to Sun Tzu, Longfellow and a number of others, and one which I hope will apply to the situation that Moldovan justice finds itself in.

Naturally there is a huge amount of pent-up frustration that those who committed crimes during the PCRM's eight year rule haven't yet been brought to justice.  Younger commentators in particular believe that the four months available to Prosecutor General Zubco should have yielded more tangible results.

Kangaroo courts such as the one that convicted Nicolae and Elena Ceasescu on Christmas Day 1989 produce results very quickly and satisfy those seeking revenge.  They don't, however, bring justice.

Justice needs to be meticulous.  It needs to be done slowly and carefully such that the evidence is of sufficient weight and quality to produce a verdict beyond reasonable doubt (and which is seen by all to be such).  That sort of justice takes time.  Investigations need to be organised in such a way as to gather evidence without it being compromised in any way (e.g. that obtained by illegal searches, or by confessions under duress)

It does, however, appear that the wheels are grinding.  Papuc has been interviewed twice in respect of his role on April 7th, first as a witness, later as a suspect.  Voronin himself has spent a large part of the past two days providing testimony.  A young woman of considerable courage, Oxana Radu, has come forward and descibed her treatment in police custody and the (highly irregular) summary judgement she received for crimes she didn't commit.

Funnily enough, Voronin may be responsible for his own downfall.  As a member of parliament he enjoys immunity from prosecution.  Such immunity can only be lifted with a vote of 2/3 of the deputies.  At the start of December the communists had 48 seats, easily enough to block any attempt by the AIE to lift Voronin's immunity.  He could have sat tight for the four-year term of the parliament without any fear of prosecution.

His vanity, however, did not allow him to vote for Marian Lupu as president of the country, and as a result his party has started to fall apart.  The blocking minority is now only 44 seats and could fall further as deputies leave the PCRM in favour of the Democrats and United Moldova.  What's more is that, by blocking Lupu's election, Voronin may have forced anticipated elections later in the year, in which the communists are likely to do poorly.  It is entirely conceivable that the next Parliament will vote to lift immunity.

Of course , with respect to Papuc, Oleshka and the rest, there is no immunity issue....


  1. Zimbru...are the wheels of justice leading us to a just society or to sort of political justice...?

  2. Only time (measured in years) will tell. It is important that the crimes of the Communist regime are punished. It is equally important that crimes committed under the AIE government be investigated and punished in equal measure.

    In practice we are probably looking at a two step process: (1) de-communizing the justice system, and (2) making it truly independent of political interference. We are in phase 1, which means that, while things are improving, there is still scope for abuse.

  3. Are the members of our corrupted political elite and political institutions able to built a just society...hard to believe...

  4. With a lot of hard work, corruption can be weeded out of a society and a culture. Leading exhibits would probably be (1) Singapore, where the 'benevolent' authoritarian regime of Lee Kuan Yew recognised that corruption was inherent in Chinese culture and rigorously enforced controls designed to change the culture, and (2) Chile, which, having got rid of the Dictator pinochet, embarked upon a path of democratisation and increasing transparency.

    In Moldova's case I would suggest we need the following to make progress
    1. Full commitment by senior politicians
    2. Legislation which promotes open government and gives the citizen access to information.
    3. Audit of the Moldovan justice system by judicial authorities from Finland and Denmark (two of the least corrupt countries in the world)
    4. Rights of appeal not just to the ECHR but to other European judicial bodies as well.