Two Romanian journalists have been convicted of attempting to blackmail politicians and business leaders over several years. The Appeal Court in Cluj gave Florin Asimionesei a three-year suspended jail sentence and five years of conditional probation. Alin Tocan got a two-year suspended jail sentence and four years on probation. Both journalists are associated with Buna Ziua Iasi (Hello Iasi), formerly Ziua de Iasi (Iasi Daily).
The offenses took place between 2001 and 2004. National Liberal Party (PNL) politician Relu Fenechiu, who is currently the Minister for Transport and Infrastructure, was the complainant in the case and the two journalists will have to pay damages. Between them, the costs and damages due total some EUR 16,000, according to reports in the local media.
The two journalists were previously acquitted by another court and the lawyer representing them said that they will contest the case further, suggesting that they might go to the European Court for Human Rights. There have already been claims that the case and the decision were “politically motivated” and the lawyer called the Cluj Appeal Court’s decision “a colossal stupidity.”
Alin Tocan was the editor of Ziua de Iasi, but has since retired from the position. Florin Asimionesei is currently the boss if Buna Ziua Iasi, which published an editorial claiming that the court decision was politically motivated.
The story made it all the way to the Miami Herald, USA.