Romanian media owner and politician gets five years in jail for blackmail

Romanian media owner and politician Dan Diaconescu will serve five and a half years in jail for blackmail. The Bucharest Court of Appeal issued the final sentence, ruling the jail time, without parole, on Wednesday, March 4. The court upgraded a previous conviction, of three years in prison, issued by the Bucharest District 1 Court. Diaconescu appealed the decision and got his sentence upped.

Diaconescu, owner of the defunct TV station OTV, and leader and founder of the party bearing his name, the Popular Party Dan Diaconescu, is one of the several media owners in Romania who serve jail. Dan Adamescu, owner of the Romania Libera newspaper, serves over four years in prison while Sorin Rosca Stanescu, owner of the Ziua newspaper, serves a two-year conviction. Both these convictions are final. Meanwhile, the Mediafax Group owner Adrian Sarbu also serves preventive arrest.

Dan Diaconescu, who also run for the country’s presidency in the last two election rounds, will not be allowed to run for public office for three years after serving his jail term. The party he founded, the Popular Party Dan Diaconescu, has seats in the Parliament, but its MPs decided to change the name of the parliamentary group to the Democratic and Popular group. MP Daniel Fenechiu said he’d also start a new party under this name.

Two journalists from the OTV TV stations are also prosecuted in the same blackmail case as their former boss. Diaconescu threatened a local mayor in 2009, on several occasions, both directly during shows at his TV station, and indirectly, via his journalists. Diaconescu asked the mayor to pay him EUR 200,000, but only received some EUR 40,000 of it, via one of his journalists.

In another prosecution case, Diaconescu is accused of having blackmailed a businessman into paying him EUR 100,000. He received EUR 4,500 of it, via another journalist. Diaconescu used his TV station OTV to blackmail these people, and extort them, threatening to reveal sensitive information about them on TV should they not pay.

The media owner tried to buy the state-owned chemical producer Oltchim during a privatization attempt. The state selected him as winner, but he failed to come up with the money, turning the whole process into a highly publicized fiasco.

Romania’s justice for all: 35 big names now behind bars, under preventive or house arrest

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