The Bucharest Court on Friday ruled a thirty-day preventive arrest term for Mircea Basescu, President Basescu’s brother, in the case in which he is accused of receiving EUR 250,000 from Florin Anghel in order to influence the judges so that Sandu Anghel, also known as Bercea Mondial, would get out of jail.
Marian Capatana, the alleged middleman who handed over to President Traian Basescu’s brother the money from Sandu Anghel’s family, was placed under thirty-day preventive arrest, being charged with being an accessory to influence peddling. The Bucharest Court’s decision is not final and can be attacked at the Court of Appeals. In fact, Mircea Basescu’s lawyer said that Mircea Basescu has appealed against the court decision.
We remind our readers that Basescu’s brother was remanded in custody for 24 hours, on Thursday, by the National Anti-corruption Directorate (DNA) prosecutors on charges of influence peddling. According to a DNA report, Mircea Basescu used his status as member of the family of Romanian President Traian Basescu, giving the impression that he could influence the judges into handing down a more lenient sentence or even releasing Sandu Anghel from prison. ‘Defendant Mircea Basescu – although knowing his brother’s responsibilities and also telling the denouncer in a wiretapped discussion that ‘this is not in the President’s powers’, does not discourage comments regarding the person of the President, and even more, fuels them so as not to dispel the impression that he can influence the magistrates,’ the prosecutors assert. The report also shows that Marian Capatana received EUR 250,000, representing the first tranche of a total of EUR 600,000 Bercea’s family had been required to pay, in an apartment in Constanta; the banknotes were checked and counted by a machine and then the money came into Mircea Basescu’s possession.
According to DNA, between February 20, 2011 and February 22, 2012, Mircea Basescu received EUR 250,000 from denouncer Florin Anghel through the agency of Marian Capatana in exchange for his promised interceding with the magistrates who handled the case in which Sandu Anghel was being tried for attempted murder, in order to obtain a favourable ruling, consisting of either a more lenient sentence or even the release of the defendant.
Mircea Basescu’s wife apologizes to President’s family
Mircea Basescu’s wife has apologized yesterday to the President’s family for her and her husband’s inability to “live up to the level of the office and rank” they “reached.” “We were probably not prepared. I believe everyone has something to learn from this,” Doinita Basescu said. She pointed out she talked only once with her husband after his arrest, adding that she plans to visit him most likely today.
“I thank all those who have sent us messages and have conveyed to us their positive energy in order to be able to overcome this situation,” she said. Prior to making these statements, Doinita Basescu had stated on Friday that she does not believe her husband is guilty and that there was immense pressure coming from Sandu Anghel’s family in order to save Sandu Anghel from prison, pressure that included “midnight visits.”
Basescu: I haven’t received any money or goods from Sandu Anghel
A day after his brother was arrested President Basescu stated in a written interview for Realitatea TV that he did not receive any money or goods from or on behalf of Sandu Anghel in order to have his sentence lowered or to pardon him. At the same time, Basescu claims he never discussed with his brother about Sandu Anghel’s case: “Moreover, I assure you, as I said before, that there is no police officer, prosecutor or judge who can say that he was influenced by me or on my behalf, through intermediaries, in this case or in any other case.”
On the other hand, the Head of State pointed out that last year his brother told him he was being blackmailed. “I then asked him to immediately inform the state institutions. Which he did. I could not go and denounce the blackmail for him but I asked him to immediately inform the state institutions,” the President said, being quoted by Mediafax.
Asked why he did not prevent his brother from entering the entourage of Sandu Anghel’s family, Basescu answered: “I found out from the press that my brother had christened one of Sandu Anghel’s granddaughters. What was I supposed to do after the event? He is an adult. Had I known beforehand I would have told him not to enter this entourage.” Asked what happened to the necklace that Maria Basescu received from Sandu Anghel on behalf of King Cioaba in 2009, at the Roma Festival in Costesti, the President answered: “I did not keep that object which is in fact a gold coin, not a necklace. It was handed over to the state, in line with the legislation currently in force, and is part of the Presidential Administration’s patrimony. (…) In fact, as required by law, that object was included, at the time, in the list of gifts received during protocol actions in 2009, a list that has since been available on the Presidency’s website.”
During the same interview, Basescu rejected the press allegations according to which Mircea Basescu stated in one of the hidden-camera recordings that he gave him money in order to intervene so that Sandu Anghel’s sentence is lowered. “I don’t believe my brother could have made such a statement because it isn’t true,” the President added.
I still think Basescu should resign, Ponta says
Prime Minister Victor Ponta said on Friday he keeps by his statement that President Traian Basescu should resign following a corruption row involving his brother and added the situation amounts to “a political earthquake,” underscored he cannot speak of direct involvement of the head of state, but of political responsibilities. “I think we are at a moment /…/ marking the end of an extremely tough time as regards the credibility of the state institutions, of the politicians. I think the judicial system is doing its job very well, the Government will also do its job very well and we must further think of what will be in the future. It doesn’t matter if the president leaves tomorrow or (when his term ends – editor’s note) in November, since the challenges stay the same ahead of us and we must take care that the bad things having happened in the last ten years should not happen again in the future,” the Prime Minister pointed out.
On the other hand, Senate Speaker Calin Popescu Tariceanu announced he would take the necessary measures to ensure the Romanian Intelligence Service (SRI) and Protection and Guard Service (SPP) reports “regarding the information protection status of visits paid by the President of Romania, which guarantees the President does not come into contact with criminals or dangerous individuals,” are sent to the Parliamentary Commissions, which will then issue a report establishing whether or not the President was informed. According to Tariceanu, SRI and SPP are legally bound to ensure information protection for the President’s husband or wife and all his/her first-degree relatives and inform the qualified state institutions of any illegal activities.
Magistrates notify judicial inspection body for defence of judiciary independence
Chief DNA prosecutor Laura Codruta Kovesi filed a request with the Superior Council of Magistracy (CSM) on Friday asking that her reputation be protected against Bercea Mondial’s statements, according to which she allegedly accepted bribe. Codruta Kovesi stated Friday that she would also notify CNA with regard to the “very serious slanderous accusations” designed to destroy her credibility and the credibility of DNA prosecutors.
In turn, Judge Livia Stanciu, president of the High Court of Cassation and Justice (ICCJ), said the statements made Thursday by Bercea Mondial constitute a serious attack to the independence of the Justice system, but emphasized that such assertions do not intimidate her but make her more fierce. Shortly afterwards, CSM chairman Adrian Bordea has notified the Judicial Inspecting Body with a view to carrying out checks regarding the defence of the independence of the judiciary following statements that pose a danger to the rule of law state having been carried by the news media.
MEP Victor Bostinaru of the Social-Democratic Party (PSD) says he is expecting MEP Monica Macovei of the Democratic Liberal Party (PDL) to publicly and firmly condemn what he claims are serious corruption misdeeds in the family of President Traian Basescu. He also argues that by having supported President Basescu in 2012, when he was suspended from office, some European political leaders indirectly associated themselves with a leader of Romania’s interlopers.
In her turn, former Minister of Justice Monica Macovei believes that justice must ‘take its course’ in the case of Mircea Basescu as well. In her opinion, the aforementioned case represents yet another proof that anti-corruption prosecutors were always independent. First Vice Chairman of PDL Catalin Predoiu stated on Friday that it would be ‘an error’ for President Traian Basescu to resign given the context of the criminal investigation that refers to his brother, accusing Mircea Geoana, Calin Popescu Tariceanu and Victor Ponta that through their statements they want a political ‘shortcut’ to the Cotroceni Palace.
PMP’s presidential candidate, Cristian Diaconescu, claims Romania needs a different kind of president from the player-type, someone who has experience in areas relevant to the presidency. However, he believes “Basescu’s reactions have always supported the justice system and its independence, in a statesman-like fashion,” which is why “he cannot see” why some right-wing politicians fail to understand the true “stakes” of the moment. Interim PNL chairman Klaus Johannis stated Friday in Timisoara that if he were in President Traian Basescu’s situation he would resign, but he also emphasized that the justice system should be allowed “to explain.”