Traian Basescu files pardon bill amendments, PMP doesn’t assume them

*Filled amendments would pardon sentences up to 10 years in prison, including for terrorism, and would halve sentences received by women, including for corruption crimes

 

Popular Movement Party (PMP) Senator Traian Basescu has filed a series of amendments to the bill on the granting of pardons, amendments that would pardon sentences up to 10 years in prison – because the current form of the bill would result in the harsher punishment of persons considered “undesirable” – and would halve the prison sentences of women convicted for non-violent crimes, including for corruption. Another amendment would allow the pardoning of persons convicted for terrorism too.

According to the amendments filed by the ex-president and obtained by News.ro, “court sentences up to and including 10 years in prison are fully pardoned.” In contrast, the Government bill stipulated that for sentences up to 5 years in prison.

“The fact that it stipulates a threshold of up to 5 years for the granting of pardon will only lead to the ruling of very high sentences for those persons considered to be undesirable, so that if they now have the chance of receiving a sentence of 3 to 4 years, in the future only sentences in excess of 5 years will be ruled, precisely in order to avoid the enforcement of this pardon law,” the PMP Senator argues.

He also wants the halving of sentences received by women “who were convicted for non-violent crimes, including for corruption crimes,” and by persons older than 60 years of age. In the Government’s bill, half the prison sentence was pardoned only in the case of pregnant women and of women who are the sole providers for their families and who have children up to 14 years of age in their care. Nevertheless, in his argument, the former president talks about “pregnant civil servants.”

“We don’t understand why a pregnant civil servant convicted for a corruption crime should be excepted from this clemency. It’s in the child’s interest for the mother to get back to her child as soon as possible. Punishment is a means of re-education, not of destroying family bonds of such sensitivity. The initiative thus comes in support of consolidating families that could fall apart because of some convictions,” Traian Basescu writes.

Basescu also wants to modify an amendment that prevents female repeat offenders from benefitting from the reduction of sentences.

The ex-president also supports cutting by a third the sentences of non-repeat offenders that committed non-violent crimes.

He also wants to extend, from one to three years, the period in which the released convict must pay back the damages.

“We propose its amending, because conditioning the receiving of pardon on the payment of damages is unconstitutional, considering that this clemency is offered only to those that have a material situation [that allows them] to obtain it,” the PMP leader argues.

The former president also wants those who lack financial possibilities to be exempted from the payment of the damages established by the court provided “the convicted person proves they have no way” of carrying out the request.

Basescu also wants to eliminate many of the exceptions to the law, believing that it is too restrictive. Thus, in contrast to the Government’s bill, in the ex-president’s view those convicted for breaking and entering, theft, fraudulent management, fraud, embezzlement, abuse of office, connivance, IT fraud, corruption crimes in all forms, conflict of interest, illegal accessing of funds, misappropriation of funds, corruption and abuse of office crimes committed by others, forgery of official documents, forgery, IT forgery and the setting up of organised crime rings in all forms would also be granted pardons.

Some of these crimes were already excepted, however only in certain forms and only under certain conditions.

Pardons would also be granted to those convicted for drug trafficking and money laundering too. The exception concerning crimes stipulated by law no.535/2004 on the prevention and combatting of terrorism would also be eliminated.

 

Politicians’ reactions

 

Dragnea on Basescu’s amendments to pardon bill: He’s an important man, I have to read them

 

Referring to the amendments that Traian Basescu brought to the pardon bill, PSD President Liviu Dragnea stated on Thursday that the ex-president is an important man and he has to read his amendments before he expresses an opinion on them.

“I have to read them, he’s an important man. I don’t believe you. Being a very important man, I must read it myself and I’ll comment after that,” Liviu Dragnea told journalists when asked for his comments on Traian Basescu’s amendments.

Asked whether he agrees with the principle proposed by Traian Basescu, namely that the prison sentence limit that would fall under the incidence of the pardon law should be extended from five to ten years, Liviu Dragnea avoided giving a clear answer, stating he is waiting for the Justice Ministry’s proposals on the pardon bill.

“I agree with everything I have been saying for a long time, namely that the Justice Ministry, with the Government’s backing, should present their plan to solve the problem from which this debate started, namely the situation in the penitentiaries. Is the pardon law sufficient or not? Have they established some programme of investments, of building new penitentiaries? Have they established a programme of alternative punishments, a package of proposals? Have they established some programme of modernising existing penitentiaries? I too am waiting to see whether the Justice Ministry, after all, has drafted this plan or this legislative package it talked to us about, after which I’ll state my point of view,” Dragnea added.

 

Tariceanu: I haven’t seen the amendments, I’ll have my say at the vote

 

Referring to the amendments that Traian Basescu brought to the pardon bill, Senate Speaker Calin Popescu Tariceanu stated on Thursday that each MP has the right to legislative initiative and to an opinion and he will have his say on this issue when the PMP leader’s amendments are put up for vote.

“Each parliamentarian has the right to legislative initiative and I respect this right. As you know, any legislative initiative follows a certain procedural circuit of debate and, consequently, I believe it’s absolutely normal for parliamentarians to express their positions on certain topics up for debate through statements, the filing of amendments or legislative initiatives. I agree that each parliamentarian should have the right to their own opinion. When we get to the point of discussing these issues – I haven’t seen the amendments – that’s when I too will express my opinion, by voting,” Calin Popescu Tariceanu stated.

 

PMP to modify own amendments to pardon bill

 

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Serban Nicolae stated that PMP’s parliamentary group will modify the amendments brought to the pardon bill. The chairman of the committee considers that the amendment that would see the pardoning of sentences up to ten years in prison is “excessive.”

“The PMP Group wants to also make a series of modifications to its own amendments. They will be copied and distributed. I won’t criticise them beforehand and I want to analyse them all with maximum discernment. (…) My only intolerance is for the intolerance of others,” Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Serban Nicolae stated.

Nevertheless, the PSD Senator said that the pardoning of sentences up to ten years in prison seems “excessive.”

“It seems an excessive timespan to me, but I don’t know whether that’s what those amendments propose. I understand a series of corrections have been made. You know my point of view, I proposed the pardoning of sentences up to 3 years, not like the Government up to 5 years. I also saw the speculations some were making about the ANP [National Penitentiary Authority] simulations. (…) If the pardoning of sentences up to 10 years is proposed, we’ll discuss it. I don’t agree with such a proposal. It will be the object of debate, like any other proposal,” Serban Nicolae stated.

 

Gorghiu: Traian Basescu and Serban Nicolae compete over who pardons higher prison sentences

 

PNL Senator Alina Gorghiu, member of the Senate’s Judiciary Committee, stated that the stake of the amendments that Traian Basescu filed to the pardon bill does not consist of the legislative process and that the ex-president is competing with PSD’s Serban Nicolae over who pardons higher prison sentences.

“The PMP overture does not seem to have the legislative process as a stake. Left possible are political explanations I’d rather abstain from commenting too much: maybe Basescu’s desire to help certain persons close to him, or to stand out in an important debate. At any rate, I note the high competitiveness between Serban Nicolae and Traian Basescu over who pardons higher punishments and a higher number of punishments for corruption! It’s an interesting competition!” Alina Gorghiu stated for News.ro.

The former Liberal leader added that she is surprised Traian Basescu does not know that the idea that has taken shape in the debates that have occurred so far was that the introduction of an alternative system for the serving of sentences – not the granting of pardons – should be the main option.

“Extending the limits of the granting of pardons is certainly not the solution, the solution is giving up on the idea of granting pardons, which divides society, and opting for an alternative system of serving sentences. From this standpoint, the amendments seem not adapted to reality and to the current level of the legislative debate on this topic,” Alina Gorghiu concluded.

 

Eugen Tomac: These are not PMP’s amendments; they will probably be filed as Mr Basescu’s amendments

 

Eugen Tomac, the leader of PMP lawmakers within the Lower Chamber, pointed out that the amendments that Traian Basescu has filed to the pardon bill, amendments that would pardon sentences up to 10 years in prison and would halve the sentences received by women convicted for corruption crimes, are not endorsed by the party.

“I want to be correctly understood, although it’s not very easy for me, but I want to be as honest as possible. As leader of the PMP group within the Lower Chamber, I haven’t seen these amendments. In fact, we haven’t talked about these amendments within the party. I consider that these amendments, if filed, are not PMP’s; we too will analyse them very carefully but, most likely, these amendments, if filed, will be Mr President Traian Basescu’s amendments, not PMP’s,” Eugen Tomac, the leader of PMP Lower Chamber lawmakers, stated on Thursday.

He pointed out that the PMP’s National Executive Council will be convened next week to discuss the issue of the amendments filed by Traian Basescu.

“I don’t want my statements to be misinterpreted. At this moment, I wanted to very clearly underscore that these are not PMP’s amendments. We will have a talk within the party and we will better clarify the other aspects. I’m not the kind of politician that comes up with all kinds of uninspired or inappropriate statements about Mr President Traian Basescu. He has vast political experience, he probably has well-grounded reasons to make overtures in his capacity as Senator, but I want to be very clear about this topic: they were not drafted by us and we haven’t discussed them within the party up to this moment,” Tomac added.

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