After the release from arrest of customs officers at the Siret Customs Checkpoint, a further 38 customs and police officers from customs checkpoints in Timis County were released from detention yesterday morning, after judges with the High Court of Cassation and Justice <Romania’s Supreme Court> decided the defendants can be tried while free, rejecting the appeal filed by anti-corruption prosecutors on the Timisoara Court of Appeal’s Friday ruling to release the 38 from arrest. They had been brought from Bucharest to Timisoara and released after the news was out the appeal had been rejected. The defendants released are banned to leave the country and to contact the other defendants, or witnesses in the case.
In a media statement, the Timisoara Court of Appeal substantiated their ruling in no treatment differentiation being made between the latest batch and the defendants already released.. “The Court took into account that the situation of the 38 defendants is similar to that of the 140-strong group also called the “Moravita batch” who are being investigated while free, and the fact that the criminal investigation has been concluded and the indictment drafted, with the court investigation to start June 20, 2011,” reads the statement.
A total of 140 people are investigated in connection with the case involving bribe-giving and smuggling through Timis County customs checkpoints. Prosecutors with the National Anti-Corruption Directorate (DNA) have put on trial 69 customs police officers and agents, and customs officers from the Moravita and Deta border checkpoints, of whom 38 were under preventive arrest, being charged with taking bribes in excess of EUR 82,000 in order to allow cigarette smuggling worth EUR 3.3 M across the Romanian border from Serbia.
Last week, judges of the Supreme Court ruled in favour of the customs and police officers being released from arrest on similar grounds of non-discriminatory treatment, given their fellow officers had already been released from detention.