Chisinau Court of Appeal puts an end to ex-lawyer Ala Buba’s attempt to bring ICIJ journalists to the dock

On Tuesday, the Chisinau Court of Appeal overturned the January decision of the Chisinau District Court, which forced prosecutors to file a criminal case against the Center for Journalistic Investigations (ICJM), journalists Cornelia Kozonak and Julieta Savici, and civil activist Anatole Metisarro. In a journalistic investigation into the undeclared assets of former Deputy Prosecutor General Igor Popa. The decision by which the prosecution’s appeal was accepted and the appeal of the International Commission for Justice and Justice is irrevocable.

This relates to the decision of Judge Victor Raoy on January 27, 2022 that overturned the prosecutor’s order regarding the refusal to initiate criminal proceedings at the request of Alea Popa regarding the alleged unlawful collection of data on the property of the former spouses. Igor and Alla Popa, in the journalistic investigation “VIDEO // The fictitious divorce and the hidden wealth of the Prosecutor General Igor Popa”, published on July 22, 2020.

The press investigation reveals that the Prosecutor General Igor Popa, head of the Ciucana office of the Chisinau Public Prosecutor’s Office, the former deputy prosecutor, did not indicate in the statement of wealth which buildings he uses. He filed for divorce with his wife, after which the property of each of them was registered in her name. Journalists in the investigative report showed that the prosecutor lives with his wife and children in that luxury building in the center of Chisinau. At the end of 2021, prosecutors launched two criminal cases on behalf of Igor Popa, due to false statements and unlawful enrichment, both cases based on information from the journalistic investigation.

The Center for Journalistic Investigation and the authors of the investigation have been under investigation since 2019, from the beginning of the investigation process, when the real estate data record was accessed, until now a series of acts of intimidation and harassment by the former attorney general. – Alaa Bouba’s wife is a lawyer by profession. Even more disturbing is the fact that state institutions are being used to achieve the goal of intimidating and silencing journalists. For example, the National Center for the Protection of Personal Data issued two contradictory decisions on the same issue in the ICJM case, one of violating the law and one of not violating – decisions that were the basis of Judge Rattuso’s motive for annulment by the prosecutor’s order. The entire process of harassment of investigative journalists was documented in another press material, “A Case Study of How a Prosecutor’s Wife Tried to Silence Journalists,” published in October 2021.

For about a year, from November 2020 to September 2021, the Center for Journalistic Investigation, journalists Giulietta Savici, Cornelia Kozonak and activist Anatole Mitosaro were investigated in a criminal case, initiated by the Police Inspection Center, based on a complaint by Ali Buba, who complained of “illegal collection and unauthorized dissemination of Authorized by the Center for Investigative Journalism for information on personal life, it is a personal secret.”

Criminal trial with no. 20200101462 of November 4, 2020 was examined in light of the provisions of Article. 177 of the Criminal Code, according to which the legislator establishes criminal responsibility for “violating the sanctity of personal life”, that is, “the unlawful collection or deliberate dissemination of information, protected by law, about personal life, which constitutes a personal or family secret from another person without their consent.”

On September 20, 2021, the Public Prosecutor Sergio Haria of the Center’s Prosecutor signed an order not to start a criminal investigation into the JIC case. He accepted the report with a proposal not to start a criminal investigation, which was made by Mihaela Krulikowci, Criminal Investigation Officer of the Criminal Investigation Department of the Police Inspectorate of the Chisinau Police Department. The reason for not starting the criminal investigation in Criminal Case No. And the number was 20200101462 that “the act does not fulfill the elements of the crime.”

On January 27, Judge Victor Roy overturned the decision not to prosecute, a decision that the Chisinau Public Prosecutor’s Office and the International Court of Justice had appealed.

The Center for Investigative Journalism described these coordinated actions as an unprecedented attack on the team of investigative journalists and on freedom of the press and freedom of expression in the Republic of Moldova.

This is the first time in the Republic of Moldova that a criminal case has been ordered against journalists who have carried out their professional work, setting a dangerous precedent and seriously undermining freedom of the press and freedom of expression.

After the decision of Victor Roy, many non-governmental organizations, as well as representatives of state institutions, expressed their solidarity with the journalists of the CIJM.

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