The controversial draft law that stipulates the amnestying and pardoning of large categories of criminals, a law that was on the Lower Chamber’s order of the day yesterday, was sent back to the commission with its deadline being set for February 1, 2014. Lower Chamber Speaker Valeriu Zgonea made this proposition in order for all interested institutions that have different points of views to be consulted. Zgonea’s proposition was adopted with 268 votes in favour, no votes against and no abstentions.
“It should have been rejected now (the amnesty law – editor’s note), instead of waiting for a suitable moment in order to adopt it if the press falls asleep,” democrat-liberal MP Cezar Preda stated in the plenum meeting. PDL President Vasile Blaga had warned before the vote that if the pardoning and amnesty law is placed back on the Lower Chamber’s order of the day and debated within the plenum meeting PDL would go on parliamentary strike.
“If in Romania the Parliament doesn’t have the right to draft a law it means we fought for naught at the Revolution in 1989. Parliament has this right, and it earned it through regulations, on February 1 it will be discussed and put up for a vote within the plenum. This is the law, we are standing upright and we are not bending in the wind,” Lower Chamber Speaker Valeriu Zgonea replied to PDL’s accusations. The Lower Chamber Speaker had stated the day before that the amnesty law will remain in public debate until February 1, in order to be seen that it does not represent “an illegal thing.” “After we had the discussion with those from the embassy everyone realized it’s a normal draft. And it is in public debate. That is why I stopped it from going for a final vote, in order for it to be in public debate until February 1, in order for everyone to see it’s nothing illegal,” Zgonea pointed out on Monday.
In his turn, Premier Victor Ponta stated on Monday that the amnesty law can be adopted out of practical and penal policy considerations, after the European Commission is informed, and provided it respects the Constitution and European regulations and it rules out acts of violence and corruption.
“In principle PSD supports the idea that after a discussion with the Justice Minister, with the CSM, with the High Court, and after informing the European Commission, if it is in line not only with the Romanian Constitution but also with the regulations adopted at European level and if it rules out acts of violence and corruption, the amnesty law can be adopted out of practical and penal policy considerations,” Ponta stated.
The draft law stipulates amnesty for the crimes for which the Penal Code or the special laws stipulate penalties entailing deprivation of liberty up to 7 years, a fine included, and the entire pardoning of punishments to be served in prison up to 6 years included. Both the amnesty and the pardoning are not valid for certain cases provided for by the law.
Kovesi: The judiciary will be seriously affected
National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA) Chief Prosecutor Laura Codruta Kovesi stated on Tuesday for Adevarul Live that the new changes brought to the Penal Code in what concerns the amnesty affect the convictions issued in the last six years. “Amnesty means erasing any kind of conviction, erasing them from the criminal record as if you have committed no criminal offense,” she explained. In what concerns the changes brought by the Lower Chamber to the Penal Code, Kovesi stated that she expects a firm position both from the Attorney General and the Justice Minister. “If we refer strictly to the change that concerns eliminating MPs from the notion of public servant, from the moment it comes into force we will no longer be able to investigate the MPs that commit acts of corruption. Those that have been sent to court will probably be acquitted, and those that have already been convicted will be able to invoke the application of a constitutional principle, namely the application of the more favorable penal law. There are serious consequences. Nowhere in Europe will we see a country in which the MPs are taken out from the category of persons that can be held legally accountable for work-related crimes. Citizens are equal before the law,” Kovesi stated.
At the same time, Romania’s corruption law is also on the European Commission’s radar. EU Commissioner for Justice Viviane Reding on Monday told MEPs in the European Parliament’s civil liberties committee that Romania’s latest law shielding politicians from corruption will be dealt with in January. “We are very worried in the way things are developing in the bad direction on the anti-corruption front,” said Reding.