Verdict in Romanian ruling party leader’s corruption case, one day after EU elections
Romania’s High Court of Cassation and Justice (ICCJ), the country’s supreme court, will announce the final verdict in the corruption case targeting ruling party leader Liviu Dragnea on Monday, May 27.
Thus, May 27 becomes a day of utmost importance for the head of the Social Democratic Party (PSD), the man depicted by the international media as Romania’s shadow leader. On that day, he will find out if his party won the EU elections or not and if he keeps his freedom or goes to jail.
The case in which Dragnea waits for the final verdict is about him arranging that an institution subordinated to the Teleorman County Council hired two women who were in fact working at the PSD office in Teleorman. In other words, the public institution paid the two women and they worked for the party. The damage in this case, representing the salaries paid to the two women, was estimated at RON 108,000 (EUR 23,000). The institution the two women were hired at is in charge of child protection, among others.
Dragnea, who was head of the Teleorman County Council at that time, said in court that he didn’t know the two women’s status within the public institution and that he hadn’t intervened so that they would get paid without doing any work there. He also said that the case against him was a political one.
A panel of three judges at the High Court of Cassation and Justice found Dragnea guilty and sentenced him to 3 years and 6 months of jail time, in July 2018. He appealed the decision and so did the National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA), which asked for a harsher sentence.
Since then, the Social Democratic Party (PSD) has intensified its efforts to have the criminal law changed while also trying to prove that the anticorruption prosecutors had collaborated illegally with the secret services in corruption investigations and that the High Court had broken the law when judging corruption cases.
The Constitutional Court has already decided that the protocols between DNA and SRI were illegal and that the High Court didn’t respect the law when selecting five-judge panels but these decisions didn’t help Dragnea very much with the current case. The Chamber of Deputies, though its deputy president Florin Iordache (PSD), also filed a complaint to the Constitutional Court saying that three-judge panels that judged corruption cases in the last 15 years were illegal because they didn’t have judges specialized in corruption. Should the Constitutional Court rule in favor of the Chamber of Deputies and find that the three-judge panels in corruption cases didn’t respect the law, then Dragnea could have the sentence in July 2018 canceled. However, the Constitutional Court decided on Monday, May 20, to postpone the decision in this matter for June 5.
Meanwhile, the High Court decided on Monday to postpone the verdict in Dragnea’s case for May 27, which means that the final sentence in this case will come before the Constitutional Court’s decision. It’s uncertain how things will unfold after that.
Thus, the next two weeks, and especially the day of May 27, will be decisive for the PSD leader. A defeat in the European elections and a final jail sentence would most probably end his political career while a win in the elections and a favorable sentence would make him a potential candidate for the presidential elections at the end of this year.
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