Infringement upon the mining project opposition's right to a fair trial

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Infringement upon the mining project opposition's right to a fair trial

Cluj-Napoca, 7. November 2013 – Romania’s High Court of Cassation and Justice (HCCJ) took four recent decisions to transfer from the Cluj Tribunal all the four trials in which the Alburnus Maior Association and the Independent Center for the Development of Environmental Resources ask the suspension and the annulment of important administrative acts issued for Rosia Montana Gold Corporation (RMGC) in the licensing procedure for the cyanide based gold mining project at Rosia Montana. Decisions taken by HCCJ to transfer trials to another jurisdiction are irrevocable are not motivated.

The above-mentioned trails were registered at the Cluj Tribunal in 2011. The NGOs seek the annulment and the suspension until the irrevocable annulment of the environmental permit (SEA permit) issued by the Regional Environmental Protection in Sibiu for RMGC’s new Zoning Urban Plan for the Industrial Development Area. The associations also seek the suspension and annulment of the archeological discharge certificate for the Carnic Massif at Rosia Montana issued by the Alba County’s Direction for Culture. The requests to transfer the trials were formulated in September 2013 by RMGC, who intervened in all cases. Following the approval of these requests, the trials have been transferred to the Tribunals in Suceava, Bacau, Buzau and Covasna.

RMGC claimed that several trial circumstances cause pressures on the magistrates from the Cluj Tribunal. RMGC’s claims were constructed around the fact that vast public protests presently taking place at Cluj-Napoca against the Rosia Montana mining project tend to put high pressure on the magistrates’ perception and that this situation can lead to biased decisions from their part. RMGC’s exotic juridical reasoning went as far as to claim that certain leaders of the local community as is the Mayor of Cluj, Mr. Emil Boc, but also representatives of the Social Democratic Party publicly expressed themselves against the mining project and that the spread of public protests whereby participants tend to put pressure on decision-making factors qualify Cluj Napoca as the country’s second largest center of public outcry against the mining project at Rosia Montana.

One legitimate question to ask if we were to embrace RMGC and HCCJ’s reasoning is to what extent these requests could have been impartially decided on in Bucharest given that actually the country’s largest public protests against the Rosia Montana project take place in Bucharest, but also considering the position expressed by the country’s President and by Mr. Victor Ponta, President of the Social Democratic Party and who’s Government is a vehement supporter of the Rosia Montana gold mining project.

The two NGOs, plaintiffs in the trials denounce the decisions to transfer the trails to other jurisdictions and consider them an infringement upon the plaintiff’s right to a fair trial. The trails’ transfer leads to an unreasonable prolongation of the judicial procedures and excessive aggravation of the plaintiff’s situation in organizing their defense at the new courts located hundreds of miles away from Cluj-Napoca.

“The arguments brought in support of the requests to transfer the files lacked any evidence and were subjective statements on the alleged bias showed by magistrates at the Cluj Tribunal. During their entire litigation activity concerning illegal acts issued for the gold mining project at Rosia Montana the two NGOs have had a constant practice not to disclose information regarding the ongoing judicial procedures in order to preclude any suspicion of public pressure on the magistrates in charge of hearing the cases. All public statements made by the plaintiffs strictly referred to definitive and irrevocable judgments in the trials, therefore the magistrates’ deliberation has never been influenced by public debates against the mining project. Witnessing massive public protests in virtually all major towns of Romania and internationally and given that hundred thousands of people expressed themselves through protests and petitions against the mining project, we wonder if in HCCJ’s logic any national court would be impartial to hear our cases”, declared Stefania Simion, the NGO’s legal representative.

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For more information contact Ștefania Simion: +40741137266 or alburnusmaior@ngo.ro and visit www.rosiamontana.org