Former Romanian minister Elena Udrea returns to jail

Romania’s High Court of Cassation and Justice (ICCJ) ruled in favor of the anticorruption prosecutors’ request to arrest former tourism minister Elena Udrea in another corruption case. The Court decided on Wednesday, February 25, that Udrea should spend the following 30 days in jail. She can appeal against the decision.

The National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA) has requested Udrea’s arrest in a case related to the illegal financing of a boxing gala, in 2011. As a minister of regional development and tourism, Udrea approved a EUR 2.3 million funding for the gala in which Romanian champion Lucian Bute defended his IBF Super Middleweight title against French Jean-Paul Mendy.

The sponsorship was disguised as a publicity contract, as the gala promoted Romania’s tourism brand.

The organizer of the gala was a private company controlled by former Romanian boxed Rudel Obreja, who was at that time the president of the Romanian Boxing Federation. The prosecutors arrested Obreja at the beginning of February in the same case.

The prosecutors indicted Udrea for abuse of office and attempted cover up. She also faces bribery charges.

Elena Udrea will return to jail about one week after she was released from the Bucharest police arrest into home arrest. The DNA prosecutors previously held her on February 10, on influence peddling charges.

Those accusations came in another corruption case related to the purchase of overpriced Microsoft IT licenses by state authorities. Udrea’s former husband Dorin Cocos was also arrested in the same case.

Elena Udrea claimed that the prosecutors didn’t have any evidence against her, to support the arrest decision. She said that both files against her rested solely on testimonies made by her former friends and collaborators. She said those people only testified against her to get out of jail themselves.

“What should I do? Should I also denounce someone else to get out?” she said in one of her many media appearances.

Many believe that Elena Udrea is a target because she could lead to former President Traian Basescu, whose close collaborator and friend she was. However, Udrea said that she had nothing to testify against Basescu.

Basescu, who was initially quiet when the scandal broke at the end of January, recently stated in a TV interview that he believed Udrea was innocent. He said that he had visited Udrea while she was under home arrest to convince her that he didn’t abandon her.

Udrea complained about the harsh conditions she had to endure in jail in front of the Chamber of Deputies, but this didn’t convince her colleagues to reject the prosecutors’ request to waive her immunity.

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