While Nine O’Clock went to press last night, the Bucharest Tribunal was still to decide over the prosecutors’ demand for the arrest of other 14 policemen.
By Adina Popescu
Bucharest Tribunal decided yesterday to arrest for 29 days 15 of 31 policemen from police precincts 1 and 3 in Bucharest charged with bribe-taking, being accessories to prostitution and pandering, illegal detainment and torture, Mediafax informs. Prosecutors had detained 30 policemen on Tuesday. The policemen are charged with taking bribes from drivers, panderers and prostitutes, the sums ranging from RON 50 to RON 600. The 31 policemen are accused of committing 100 crimes of this nature in October – December 2011.
Thus, some of the 31 policemen collected protection taxes from prostitutes in order to turn a blind eye to their illegal activities, the General Anti-corruption Directorate (DGA) pointed out in a press communiqué. The policemen did not act as a group, they acted individually or with one or two of the colleagues each had in his work shift. Some of the policemen knew the panderers and prostitutes in their precinct’s area of responsibility and collected money from them “in order not to open criminal files,” prosecutor Bogdan Staicu stated.
Another modus operandi was for them to pull over certain cars, to notify the drivers that they broke the law and to determine them to offer bribes by using expressions such as “now the ball is in your court” or “go to your car and think about your situation,” the prosecutor added.
One of the policemen’s victims seems to have been an undercover female agent. The policemen forcefully took the alleged prostitute to the precinct where they stripped her naked, beat her up and spat her, libertatea.ro informs. Judicial sources stated that other undercover agents played the roles of “pimps” or drivers.
Minister Igas: “These are the people…”
Internal Affairs Minister Traian Igas pointed out that it is regrettable that the people called to respect and enforce the law are the ones that break it.
“These are the people we have in the system today and we can’t do anything without them! (…) I’m disappointed, that’s all I can say… I didn’t expect such a high number of policemen breaking the law,” Igas stated in an interview for ‘Evenimentul Zilei.’ Romanian Police Chief Liviu Popa considers that the number of policemen investigated in this file is small compared to the number of civil servants from other institutions being investigated. “There are 6,700 policemen in Bucharest and the number of those indicted is insignificant,” he said. Nevertheless, the aforementioned daily reminded its readers that last year precinct 3 registered 53 arrests, the highest number of arrest among all police precincts in Bucharest.
Head of Bucharest Police: “Petty thieves…”
Head of Bucharest Police Vasile Viorel stated that the policemen detained are nothing but “petty thieves” and this was not an organized network. “There is no network. It wasn’t something organized. They were trying their luck: if the sucker fell for it good, if not so be it. (…) One can’t say someone had their backs, although I’m not vouching for anyone, but they’re… petty thieves! What do you call one who takes RON 600 at most?! (…) Why do you think they’re only simple agents? (…) They’re policemen with the lowest salaries in the system,” Vasile Viorel stated on Tuesday for ziarulring.ro.