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March 1, 2021
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Scandals will not affect Schengen accession, Police head claims

Liviu Popa asks for all local Police heads to be professionally evaluated and replaced, if need be.

The latest Interior Ministry and inside police incidents will not affect Romania’s accession to Schengen, Liviu Popa, the new chief of National Police said on Wednesday. “There is a calendar we need to follow and, in spite of all these difficult times for the ministry, we will prove our country is ready to enter Schengen, “Popa told a press conference in Piatra- Neamt, after chief- commissary Dorel Manole was sworn-in as head of local police. Regarding the recent image blows police has had starting with the shooting incident in Piatra-Neamt two weeks ago, Popa said all county chiefs of police will be professionally evaluated in the upcoming days, and suggested chief- commissary Manole should do the same with Neamt chiefs of service. “As much as change is not always a solution, my recommendation is that all local heads must be evaluated, and if found non-performing, replaced immediately,” he said. Popa also admitted the fact that “an unprecedented image crisis has occurred in the media, regarding police activity, a crisis that started in Neamt.” “I will make it my personal aim to bring back the image of local police back to where it belongs, “ Dorel Manole said, in his turn. Referring to some of former Neamt police chief’s statements that created controversies, Liviu Popa declared an open war to underworld clans in Neamt and elsewhere, claiming “a crime boss is a criminal who is part of a group, and those who ‘loan shark’ money are considered criminals, so their place is in jail.”


Also, the new head of police admitted “there are ties between police and underworlds, we cannot hide that, but their percentage is low.” On November 18 Chief-Commissary Aurelian Soric asked the Interior Minister to relieve him from duty as head of Neamt Police. On Tuesday, Dorel Manole, former head of Anti-Corruption Division Bacau was named in his stead.


The crisis in Neamt came after a local crime boss was shot dead in a Piatra-Neamt café and later local media started making disclosures on his ties with the head of police. A ministry team lead by former State Secretary Dan Fatuloiu was sent to Neamt to investigate Aurelian Soric’s activity and, following that, all Neamt chiefs of police threatened to resign if Soric was dismissed. “This was a highly emotional and unconscious act,” Liviu Popa commented yesterday. “I will be waiting for those people’s real resignation and I am not going to wait for it long,” he concluded.


NEW REVELATIONS


Meanwhile, press reports yesterday revealed new information about Aurlian Soric and his alleged connection to murdered crime boss Gheorghita Mararu. Daily ‘Romania libera’ reported that Soric helped the Mararu clan take over a hotel two years ago by informing them of a complaint filed against them. The complaint, filed in June 2008, referred to a raid by Moldovan and Ukrainian thugs who demanded the keys of the hotel for Mararu. Hotel managers were even threatened with death if they didn’t obey. The complaint was never solved, the newspaper said.


Another central daily, ‘Evenimentul Zilei,’ said Soric built an office building in a central area of Ias, which he rented out shortly before the Interior Ministry scandal broke out. According to calculations made by the newspaper, Soric would cash 216,000 Euro in rent alone in the next ten years.


FATULOIU BRIBERY CASE: MORE ALLEGATIONS


In the second case that jolted the Interior Ministry in recent days, new accusations were voiced against businessman Catalin Chelu, who is accused of having attempted to bribe former State Secretary Dan Fatuloiu. The current head of the Galati customs, Petrica Munteanu, claims he was kidnapped and beaten up by Chelu, according to daily ‘Adevarul,’ because he did not want to give control of his firm to the businessman.


On the other hand, Realitatea TV charged that Dan Fatuloiu’s son, Alexandru Fatuloiu, loaned money on interest, together with a friend of his, Catalin Zuluf. Alexandru Fatuloiu is also involved in the Interior Ministry bribery case, as he was reportedly approached by Chelu with the proposal as well.

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