The Delay of Justice Is Injustice
Regarding the trial of Gregorian Bivolaru, while awaiting the final verdict to be taken by the highest court of Romania, many MEPs have shown their support by addressing the Romanian authorities in a bid to ensure the legality of the court procedures and impartiality of the judges. Apart from the total blackout in the Romanian media with regards to the MEPs’ firm actions on this matter, (an almost unique situation considering the number of official responses), there is still a great deal of cynicism and many irregularities within the Romanian judicial system. All of these are clear signs that there is still a lot of demagogy in the political discourse coming from Bucharest, in the middle of a furious pro-Schengen campaign. The image of a judicial system that works well and is in accordance with European standards is created with the help of lies and an attempt to “sweep under the carpet” all those situations that are not fitting into the idealistic picture Romanians want to give. And Bivolaru’s case (and subsequently the MISA yoga school case in its entirety) is probably the biggest case they are desperately trying to get rid of by discrediting Bivolaru and the yogis and minimizing the social extension of this case.
Yet currently there are severe violations of the legal and court proceedings right in front of the international observers. I wonder how many situations like this it would take before Romania would receive some more warnings from Brussels about its flawed justice system?
Here are some important facts about Romania’s so-called ”justice”, and why it is important that Romania’s judicial system stays under international surveillance:
On the 12th of April 2012, the High Court of Cassation and Justice of Romania unjustly annulled the verdicts of the Trial Court and the Court of Appeals, both of which ruled in favor of the defendant and ordered a retrial in the highest court. The annulment invoked legal articles which can only be applied if the previous verdicts were not favorable for the defendant. Such a discrepancy in the application of the law does raise serious concerns about the competence and impartiality of the court. But it seems that today anything can happen in Romania… and unfortunately not always for the better.
“Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities.”― Voltaire
Repeated campaigns of disinformation have created in the public the impression that Gregorian Bivolaru is probably the biggest Romanian criminal, so that the vigilance of the public eye (which is anyway weak) will greatly diminish and no one will care for the procedures and laws in this trial (that have lasted for the last 8 years!). As a result of this there is no respect for Gregorian Bivolaru’s basic civil rights, and he has been branded by the Romanian Police as “Most Wanted”, even though he received political asylum in Sweden 7 years ago on the grounds of human rights. The media repeats over and over the same absurd defamatory remarks and invents ”sensational” news (that is in fact merely copied from the internet), but at the same time the same media is completely silent about particular elements of this case that would be of public interest and that are both real and, in their way, sensational.
Although he was found innocent by two Romanian courts, considering the notoriety of the “MISA – Bivolaru” case it was expected that the true artisans of the reckless campaign against the Romanian yoga school would fight back. If Gregorian Bivolaru would be declared irrevocably innocent, it is obvious that at some point someone would have to pay for all the blatant abuses and persecution, especially the prosecutors and other representatives of the authorities. Finally, the reason for the huge amounts of money spent on surveillance and investigation of the Romanian yoga school should be explained. Furthermore, after the final victory of Gregorian Bivolaru in this trial, it would be expected that all the other set-up files would turn to dust.
For all these reasons (and given Romania’s famous record for counterfeiting files for political reasons) it doesn’t come as a surprise that there is strong pressure being put on the court. Moreover, the High Court of Justice is known in Romania to be the place where all the political interference and pressure is made since this is the final stage to which any trial will go …
Here are a few examples of recent abusive judicial behavior that tell a lot about the reason why this trial is the only one in Romania that “enjoys” the presence of international observers (but this information DOES NOT APPEAR IN THE ROMANIAN MEDIA):
– The decision of the highest court and the motivation for the decision was not officially communicated to the lawyers of the defendant within 20 days from the session, as the law states, but was given only 1 day before the date of the retrial (on the 24th of May, 2012).
– The motivation of the decision has dismissed the evidence found during the court investigation and given priority to those of the prosecutors’ investigation, even if this evidence was proven to have been abusively obtained.
– The declaration of an important witness in the case was dismissed. In that declaration the witness, who had fled Romania by that time, confesses that his life was repeatedly threatened and thus he was influenced to give the original declaration against the defendant. This statement (which is of a rare gravity considering the implications) was given in front of the public notary and despite its perfect legal validity was dismissed by the judges from the High Court of Justice (and kept silent by the Romanian media).
– The highest court of Romania decided to accept as evidence against the defendant, transcripts of illegally obtained phone tapping, which had been dismissed as evidence by previous courts because of their illegalities and irrelevance to the case. The tapping of the phone conversations of the defendant also prove that he was constantly under surveillance by the Romanian secret police, even though practicing yoga was no longer an illegal activity after 1989.
If You Tell The Truth, You Don’t Have to Remember Anything
Since its first court meeting at the High Court of Cassation, all who attended the trial, including Gregorian Bivolaru’s defenders, were outraged by the unprofessional behavior of the judges. With an inquisitorial tone, Judge Matei Ionut seemed to be more of a prosecutor than a judge. As Bivolaru himself remarks in a memoir he recently wrote, this kind of behavior of judges is condemned by Article 99 of the Law no.303/2004, which refers to “undignified attitude during performance of their duties towards their colleagues, other court personnel, judicial inspectors, lawyers, experts, witnesses, litigants or representatives of other institutions.” Bivolaru also wrote that ”this undignified attitude reflected in a negative way on my chosen defenders, who were often challenged by harsh tones, were interrupted and were treated with contempt and irony, being put in a position to hardly be able to defend my case. Furthermore, it should be noted that such situations in which Judge Ionut Matei did not act dignified, calm, civilized and impartial during the hearings were, unfortunately, repeatedly the subject of newspaper articles (and as such represented several times severe alarm signals). This attitude is even more regrettable since we refer to magistrates of the High Court of Justice of a European country, which is supposed to be a living example regarding ethical principles and professional obligations required in such a profession.”
One of the international observers of the trial (a delegate from Soteria International) noticed how, during the court hearing, the police officer on duty was asked to remove from the courtroom a person who was protesting vehemently against the persecution of yoga practitioners. The officer made a mocking and offensive remark which indirectly involved the defendant, and the judge was amused and dismissed the lawyer’s objection.
On the 7th of June, 2012 the retrial of Gregorian Bivolaru’s case began in the Supreme Court. MISA’s lawyers asked for recusal and replacement of the judges, because of the illegalities and lack of democratic trial. The three judges did not dispose after the cassation, to send the cause to be judged by the court, but retained it to judge it themselves. Domestic law allows such a procedure, but when we speak of a conviction given straight at the appeal, and that becomes final, the question is how will the right to a new effective trial, that is guaranteed by CEDO, be respected? Moreover, they say the previous decisions were annulled for ”offering Bivolaru the chance to defend himself”.. The High Court made a show by ”providing” the defendants with the opportunity to defend themselves. But they had already been acquitted..
From Error to Error, One Discovers The Entire Truth
Although recused, the Romanian court once again severely broke the law by already setting a new hearing for the 11th of June, 2012, showing that the judges already knew that the request for recusal would be rejected. On Monday the 11th of June, 2012, the retrial of Grieg’s case in the Supreme Court continued. The request for recusal, made by Bivolaru’s lawyers, was rejected. However, one of the judges, Ioan Bogdan, was replaced for personal reasons with another; Maricela Cobzariu. The other two remained, namely Ionut Matei and Cristina Rotaru. The next term for the trial is the 13th of July, 2012.
Gregorian Bivolaru’s memoir ends significantly:
“Instead of conclusions, there can be said, based on evidence, that when justice deliberately ignores certain obvious truths, a lot of injustice and flagrant abuses are thus enabled. A fair and impartial judicial institution has the power to promote what is right and, moreover, to respect the existing laws in the name of the truth. Should justice be blind and function as a result of insidious interference of various components interested in promoting arbitrariness and injustice, justice remains only a sad caricature and, in such situations, it will be – terribly and inevitably – a source of injustice and flagrant abuses.
Finally, I can say with sadness, despair and righteous indignation that these serious abuses and irregularities that have been brought against me by judges Ionut Matei, Bogdan Ioan, and Cristina Rotaru proved once again the reason for which the Supreme Court of Sweden decided on 21.10.2005, File no. Ö 2913-05, to reject my extradition that was requested by the Romanian authorities. ”The court decided that there is a risk for Gregorian Bivolaru to be subjected to very serious persecution because of his religious beliefs, in the case of a possible extradition. The Supreme Court decided that under section 7 of the Law on Extradition, there are serious impediments against extradition. ”
I conclude by reminding you that in Romania “Justice doesn’t have to be an equal sharing of injustices and abuses of all kinds”.
Although these issues are flagrant, I have no hope that you will take appropriate action, because until now I was repeatedly the helpless victim of dozens of flagrant abuses and obvious illegalities, and every time I was answered either by a significant silence or I was insolently told that I am wrong, despite the blatant evidence and all conclusive evidence that we provided each time.”
So much for Romania’s ”standards” for justice and human rights, and hope for aligning with any European democratic country…