The trial of Social-Democrat leader Liviu Dragnea and the extradition of the former Social-Democrat mayor of Constanta, Radu Mazare, grabbed the headlines on Monday
critics of Social-Democrat strongman, Liviu Dragnea, gathered at the
headquarters of the High Court of Cassation and Justice on Monday, expecting a
final ruling in the case involving the fictitious employment at the Teleorman
Directorate General for Social Assistance and Child Protection. The Court will
issue a final ruling on May 27. The last court appearance was on Monday, and
the National Anticorruption Directorate requested Dragnea be sentenced for
abetment to forgery in deeds as well, thus increasing his prison time. In June
2018 Liviu Dragnea was handed a 3 year and 6 months prison sentence for
abetment to abuse of office by the High Court of Cassation and Justice as the
court of first instance.
Prosecutors provided evidence supporting the
allegation that the Social-Democrat leader helped fictitiously hire two persons
who were members of the Social Democratic Party's local organization at the
Social Assistance Directorate during his time as head of the Teleorman County
Council. Although the two were working exclusively for the Social Democratic
Party, their salaries were paid from public money. Anticorruption prosecutors
claim Liviu Dragnea coordinated and controlled the Directorate's activity.
Liviu Dragnea did not appear before the Court this Monday, his lawyers trying,
to no avail, to obtain a new delay after June 5, when the Constitutional Court
is expected to rule on the three-judge panel system for the High Court.
Chamber of Deputies vice-president Florin Iordache referred a possible judicial
conflict between Parliament and the High Court of Cassation and Justice over
the panels specializing in acts of corruption. Iordache claims the High Court
refused to set up specialized panels, as the law stipulates regarding the
prevention, investigation and sanction of acts of corruption. The move was
interpreted by Dragnea's opponents and critics as a new attempt via his
compliant aide to scrap Dragnea's sentence in the fictitious employment case.
Also on Monday the former Social-Democrat Mayor of Constanta, Radu Mazare, was
extradited by the authorities in Madagascar, where he was trying to obtain
political asylum. Radu Mazare was sentenced to 9 years in prison in a case
involving the illegal assignment of plots of land, beaches and seafront in
Constanta, the biggest city on the Black Seacoast. A former journalist and
politician and a controversial and eccentric public figure, Radu Mazare abused
his office as mayor to serve his own interests. The former mayor has other
prison sentences issued in his name, some of which are not yet final. Radu
Mazare is not the only former official who fled the country trying to dodge
corruption trials. Former Minister Elena Udrea and the former head of the
National Directorate for Investigating Organized Crime and Terrorism, Alina
Bica did the same, both of them now living in Costa Rica.
(Translated by V. Palcu)