Romanian Senate lifts immunity of former PM Florin Cîțu in COVID vaccine probe
The Romanian Senate voted to lift the immunity of former prime minister Florin Cîțu, currently a Liberal (PNL) senator, as part of the DNA investigation into the purchase of COVID-19 vaccines.
Prior to the vote, the Senate's Legal Committee unanimously granted a favorable opinion regarding the DNA's request for the initiation of a criminal investigation in the case of the former prime minister, who is accused of abuse of office in the COVID-19 vaccine procurement case. In the plenum of the Senate, there were 90 votes "for," two votes "against," and three senators did not vote.
The PNL senator reviewed his case with two lawyers at the Legal Committee and stated that a favorable vote to lift his parliamentary immunity, allowing the investigation to continue, is "normal." He emphasized that he had exercised his duties as prime minister "in accordance with Romanian legislation," according to Digi24.
Probes into former health ministers Vlad Voiculescu and Ioana Mihăilă were also approved in the same case. On November 27, president Klaus Iohannis submitted to justice minister Alina Gorghiu the requests to initiate criminal proceedings against the two former government officials.
Anticorruption prosecutors asked the Senate and the Presidential Administration to lift the immunity and allow the investigation of former prime minister Florin Cîțu and former health ministers Vlad Voiculescu and Ioana Mihăilă, saying the three contracted significantly more vaccine doses than necessary, causing damage of over EUR 1 billion to the state budget.
Cîțu was prime minister for almost a year, from December 2020 to November 2021, and is currently a senator. Voiculescu was minister of health between December 2020 and April 2021, succeeded by Ioana Mihăilă, who led the ministry until September 2021.
(Photo source: Inquam Photos | Sabin Cirstoveanu)