Romanian foottball team Steaua owner, businessman and sometime-politician Gigi Becali has had an extra six months added to his prison sentence. A Bucharest court ruled yesterday (June 27) that Becali’s multiple sentences for multiple crimes should be merged and his overall prison sentence extended to three and a half years.
Prosecutors from Romania’s anti-corruption directorate (DNA) asked for an extra year of prison time and the court upheld the request, but lowered the jail time extension to six months.
Yesterday’s decision is not final and Becali’s lawyers have already indicated that they will fight the judgment in the appeal courts.
DNA prosecutors said Becali had committed multiple serious crimes and thus deserved extra prison time. The owner of Steaua Bucuresti football club has recently been convicted of corruption in a land deal, kidnapping and football match fixing via bribery. The courts decided that Becali should serve the longest sentence of the three, which was the three years for the land deal case. However, DNA prosecutors argued that with the potential for early release after serving two-thirds of his prison sentence, two years in jail would be too light a sentence for the number and seriousness of Becali’s crimes.
Controversial football boss Gigi Becali received a definitive three-year jail sentence on May 20. Romania’s Supreme Court sentenced Becali to three years imprisonment for the MApN (Defense Ministry) land exchange case. Former minister Babiuc and former Chief of Staff General Dumitru Cioflină also received two-year jail sentences.
Becali was convicted of complicity in serious, long term abuse of the land exchange system. The court revoked a previous suspended sentence given to Becali in a kidnapping case.
He said that he regrets that he will not be able to serve as an MP, and that his constituency would not be represented. The Steaua football team boss also said “This is Satan’s land,” quoted by local news agency Mediafax.
Becali was stopped by police at Bucharest’s Otopeni Airport on Sunday night May 19 while he was trying to flee the country, heading to Israel.
The Romanian businessman told the local press that his intention was to go to Israel just for few hours and pray before the Supreme Court’s decision scheduled for May 20 and that he didn’t know he was not allowed to leave the country, as the court had only made the decision a few hours previously.
Prosecutors from DNA requested jail time for Becali and the other defendants in this case, former Defense Ministry state secretary Dumitru Cioflina, former Defense Minister Victor Babiuc and his daughter, Ioana Babiuc.
According to the bill of indictment, between 1996 and 1999, the Defense Ministry, which managed the state’s public domain in Voluntari, near capital Bucharest, exchanged some land plots – 28.8 hectares with Gigi Becali. This land exchange cost the Romanian state a total amount of over USD 890,000.