Former Interior Minister Gabriel Oprea showed up on Monday at the National Anticorruption Directorate’s (DNA) main offices as he was summoned in a case concerning the death of police agent Bogdan Gigina.
“I was summoned as a suspect. It is about this cross that I will have to carry my entire life, a tragedy that killed our young colleague Gigina. As it is publicly known, I was conducting my official duties coming from a partner institution, and he fell some hundred metres away from this place. Nobody was hurrying. Investigation has shown the speed of my car and the speed of the accompanying police car was below 60 km per hour, so nobody was speeding. I once again want to apologise to his family; I know how it feels to have someone in your family die, I have lived through that. That was a big, unwanted tragedy. I was not returning from the restaurant, I was not coming from the pub, I was travelling in discharge of my official duties. That day I went to several institutions, as that was the usual procedure,” Oprea said Monday.
He argued that he followed an Interior Ministry regulation. “It was not about my ego. Please check to see that when I was Defence Minister for 30 months I used my personal car, paying for the fuel myself, and I did not need an official car. When I was appointed Interior Minister, I wanted to use my own car but they told me very clearly that the rules at the Interior Ministry are different. The said regulation is from 2000 and it provides guard and protection for the Interior Minister, any state minister or deputy prime minister, 20 hours out of 24. I did not use it 24 hours a day,” said Oprea.
He said he learned about the accident some 15 minutes after it occurred.
Asked why he accepted his motorcade to have a motorcycle outrider on a rainy day, Oprea said: “Those were not my duties. I did not even know there was something like that. I am not saying this as an excuse. Daily business at the Defence Ministry and the Interior Ministry is conducted under very clear orders and regulations. It is the Highway Police that take care of all of that.”
President Klaus Iohannis on Friday submitted to the Justice Minister a request for the criminal investigation of Oprea for offences related to the case.
At first, the request had been sent to the Romanian Senate, but the Senate rejected it. Afterward, under the pressure of protests, Gabriel Oprea resigned from Parliament, so prosecutors filed a second request, this time with President Klaus Iohannis, in line with the ministerial accountability law.
“At the moment of the accident, victim Gigina Bogdan-Cosmin was part of a motorcade accompanying Minister Oprea Gabriel. This motorcade, formed by the Traffic Police Brigade of the Bucharest Municipality’s General Police Directorate, was made up of a motorcycle police officer (the victim, Gigina Bogdan-Cosmin) and a traffic police vehicle with one police officer and one police agent on board. This motorcade was opening the way for the auto vehicle whose passenger Minister Oprea Gabriel was. At the moment of the accident, Minister Oprea Gabriel was being driven to his home located in the Cotroceni district,” the prosecutors pointed out.
According to the DNA, the evidence included in the case file point to the fact that “by breaking legal provisions regulating the use of motorcades for dignitaries, Interior Minister Oprea Gabriel ordered that he should benefit from a permanent motorcade consisting of both a traffic police car (with one traffic police officer and one traffic police agent on board) and a traffic police motorcycle.”
While in office, Gabriel Oprea used the motorcade five times a day on average, “approximately three times the number registered during the same period in the case of the Romanian President and around two times the number registered in the case of the Prime Minister, dignitaries who have the right to permanent motorcades in line with legal provisions,” the DNA explained.