Families of journalists killed in Malta and Slovakia urge Council of the EU to support Kovesi for Chief European Prosecutor role

Anca Alexe 05/04/2019 | 08:29

The families of Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia and Slovakian journalist Ján Kuciak, who were killed after they uncovered major corruption in their countries, have urged the EU Council to pick Laura Codruta Kovesi for the role of Chief European Prosecutor, in a letter published by MEP Cristian Preda on Facebook.

However, the Council of the EU on Thursday released a statement saying that it was going to maintain support for the French candidate, Jean-Francois Bonhert. The European Parliament, on the other hand, continues to back Kovesi, after three rounds of negotiations between the two institutions. If they don’t break the deadlock by next week, they will have to be extended to the new EU Parliament after the upcoming elections.

The letter is addressed to Jeppe Tranholm-Mikkelsen (Secretary General of the Council of the European Union), Vera Jourova (Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality), MEP Claude Moraes, and MEP Ingeborg Grässle, and reads:

On the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists, the Council of the EU observed that the impunity with which attacks on the press too often occur encourages further violence against journalists. But it is also the failure to prosecute the crimes that journalists expose that results in the failure to prevent their murders.

We know this from experience. A collapse in the rule of law in our countries, Malta and Slovakia, led to the murders of our family members, Daphne Caruana Galizia and Ján Kuciak. Those same failings currently threaten the integrity of their murder investigations.

In appointing the first head of the European Public Prosecutor’s Office, the Council must now make a choice that will either give meaning to its declaration, or take it away.

We call on the Council to choose the bravest and most distinguished candidate for the job, a woman made from the same mould as Daphne and Ján: Laura Codruța Kövesi.

Ms Kövesi is the most qualified candidate and has shown herself willing to bring charges forward when all other institutions within a member state have failed to act, a test which no other candidate has undergone, let alone passed. The EU can no longer assume that member states will guarantee the rule of law and fight corruption of their own accord.

Daphne and Ján cried to the heavens for the criminals they investigated to be prosecuted.

Most—in Daphne’s case, all—remain free. De facto immunity from prosecution emboldened their murderers, who operated complex cross-border rackets that should fall underthe EPPO’s mandate.

Ms Kövesi knows what it takes to prevent more murders of journalists who investigate corruption, money laundering and serious tax fraud.

We know that candidatures become chips in a game of political bargaining between member states, but money laundering and the corruption of national authorities are a serious matter of cross-border security that cannot become subject to political compromise.

Romania opposes the candidature of Ms Kövesi and is lobbying for another candidate.

Choosing a candidate other than Ms Kövesi would signal to European citizens that the EU prioritises a false sense of harmony over the protection of their fundamental rights. To choose Ms Kövesi would say that there is no room for compromise in the deadly fight against corruption.

We are victims of what a failure to stand against corruption will lead to: car bombs and bullets to the head.

We call on the Council to protect and empower brave people like our wife and mother, our son and brother, and, indeed, people like Ms Kövesi herself.

The European Parliament has established that Ms Kövesi has the best credentials to lead the EPPO. An independent ranking also put her first. She has our support and we hope to count on yours too.

We would be grateful if you could forward this letter to the Presidency trio.

Jozef Kuciak and his family

Peter, Matthew, Andrew and Paul Caruana Galizia”

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