National Liberal Party (PNL) Deputy Virgil Pop was sentenced to five years in prison on by the High Court on Friday. He was found guilty on charges of illegal use of position, forgery and money laundering. The High Court also ordered Pop to be banned from holding any public office for two years after serving his term.
Magistrates further ruled that an asset freeze imposed on half of the apartment Pop owns together with his vice be maintained. Moreover, Pop was ordered to pay RON 3,000 in trial expenses. But the ruling is not yet final and can be appealed.
In a press release after the ruling was announced, Pop said the sentence was too big and that he would have deserved this punishment if he had committed a very serious offence. Popa said he “did not kill anyone” and insisted that he will continue his legal fight to obtain justice. “My case was put together in a hurry during an election campaign when I said some very uncomfortable things about some people,” Pop said, quoted by Mediafax.
His lawyer, Eugen Iordachescu, also said the sentence was ungrounded and too big. “We have already initiated an appeal, we will see what the court says in its motivation for the ruling,” Iordachescu added.
Meanwhile, in order to avoid the sentence affecting the party’s image, PNL leader Crin Antonescu announced that he would ask the Standing Delegation of the party, in its session today, to withdraw political support form the deputy, until a final ruling is pronounced.
The deputy was indicted in December 2008, investigators charging that Pop demanded up to EUR 110,000 from a company manager, while he was a county councillor. In exchange for money, of which Pop received only RON 130,000, the Liberal politician promised to use his influence to determine the distribution of various public contracts to the company in question, investigators said.