POLITICS

Vice-premier Liviu Dragnea, formally charged in file of referendum fraud




Dragnea: I will not resign, these are unfounded accusations. PM Ponta jumped to his defence, saying this is a political file.
Vice-premier Liviu Dragnea was formally charged in the file of the 2012 referendum, under the accusation of having used his authority and influence as president of the Teleorman County Council in order to obtain a turnout of minimum 60 pc that guarantee the validation of the ballot. The Supreme Court yesterday registered this file and set the first term of the trial on February 18, 2014.
More precisely, Liviu Dragnea is accused by anticorruption prosecutors that, in the file known as ‘Fraud during the referendum,’ he coordinated a complex IT system that was conveying messages, orders and recommendations in view of rigging the referendum to the county coordinators of the campaign, mayors and party activists, DNA informs. Dragnea also allegedly ordered some of his close aides, party members from Teleorman County, where he was County Council president, to do everything they can, “even by infringing legal provisions,” in order to convince people to go and vote, so the referendum validation threshold is met, prosecutors say. Dragnea is also accused that, in rigging the 2012 referendum, he was supported by 74 presidents and members of voting sections from the counties of Teleorman, Vrancea, Gorj and Olt, who were arraigned for casting ballots instead of the voters who did not come, and signing instead.
Liviu Dragnea yesterday said that he does not envisage resigning from the government, after he was sent before judges. “I do not envisage resigning from the government,” Dragnea stated, quoted by Agerpres, adding that the accusations against him are ‘unfounded.’ His reaction comes after PDL yesterday demanded ‘the urgent resignation’ of the deputy PM. “The fact that I am accused of having sent messages which I did not send, of having organised an IT system which I did not organise and because people came to vote, this is a blow – a rather strong one – dealt to democracy,” Dragnea mentioned.
The vice-premier added Sunday on B1 that the main accusation against him is that he brought “undeserved benefits to PSD or USL (…) are consisting in the turnout of the ballot.”
“I consider this is very serious, because it means that any party that does electoral campaign or its campaign chief can be accused of this at some moment,” Dragnea said, quoted by Mediafax.
He also rejected the accusations of having intervened to replace prosecutor Lucian Papici from the position of chief of DNA Section 1. “I am not interested who is chief-prosecutor, section chief or whatever top management jobs there are in prosecutors’ offices. (…) As for this file, I am not interested because there is nothing against me contained by the accusations,” Dragnea stated. The referendum file was instrumented by prosecutor Lucian Papici, who was revoked on October 2 from the position of chief of the DNA Section 1.
PM Victor Ponta yesterday commented the formal accusation pressed against Liviu Dragnea, voicing his conviction that “judges will reject these 100 pc political accusations.” Ponta said that this case is only about “the accusations of a prosecutor” and, when judges will see what it is about, “it will remain just another political file, like others over the last 100 years.” He added that the investigation was conducted similarly to the “Stalinist trials,” as the prosecutor refused to allow him testify, although he demanded so. “Either all of us, those who voted in the referendum, are guilty, or none of us is. Why did we designate Dragnea to pay, not someone else?” Ponta wondered. After prosecutors announced that they were probing Dragnea, PSD president Victor Ponta said that he and other leaders of PSD signed self-denunciations to the DNA because they urged people to vote in the referendum. In his turn, PNL leader Crin Antonescu said yesterday that, although he is not familiar with the file, he is convinced that Dragnea is innocent.

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