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May 17, 2021

Nastase’s conviction sparks new argument between Premier and President

Traian Basescu: “Ponta’s statements on the judiciary seriously harm Romania”. Victor Ponta answers back: “I’m not fighting the judiciary, I’m fighting him and his tools”.

The four-year jail sentence ruled against former Prime Minister Adrian Nastase in the Zambaccian case has generated a new spat between the government and the presidency. Nastase and current Premier Victor Ponta, as well as PSD representatives, have stated that President Traian Basescu is behind the latest sentencing. Ponta stated on Monday evening on Romania TV that Adrian Nastase is a political prisoner and a victim of the Basescu regime, considering that the Head of State instituted in 2005, through his main collaborators Monica Macovei and Daniel Morar, a system geared against his political opponents, including through the means of penal cases. At the same time, Ponta considers that the Nastase case is similar to the case of Yulia Tymoshenko, the former Ukrainian prime minister sentenced to jail following a trial that was unanimously condemned by the West as being a political trial.
Yesterday morning President Basescu said that the statements made by Premier Ponta on the judiciary seriously prejudice Romania in its capacity as a member state of the European Union and NATO and asked him to observe the agreement on institutional cooperation between the two palaces.  “Romania’s President, Mr Traian Basescu, took note with deep concern of the attacks made lately by the Prime Minister of Romania’s Government, Mr Victor-Viorel Ponta, against the judiciary, on January 6 included. President Traian Basescu thinks that these statements seriously prejudice Romania in its capacity as a member state of the European Union and NATO. These statements are also incompatible with the requirements of the position of Prime Minister in a state of the European Union,” reads the statement issued by the Presidential Administration. PDL MEP Monica Macovei also retorted, saying on her blog that PM Ponta should resign following “his <Nazi> irresponsible accusations against the Justice”, also adding the prime-minister has ‘a communist speech’.

Traian Basescu ‘imperatively’ asks Victor Ponta to ‘immediately stop any attack against the judiciary and observe again the constitutional tasks of the position of Prime Minister.’
The president also requests the Premier to observe the agreement on institutional cooperation between the two palaces.
The Premier’s answered promptly, stating during the government meeting that he does not fight against the judiciary but against President Traian Basescu and “his tools,” pointing out that he noticed that the Head of State did not understand this since he accused him of launching an attack on the judiciary. “I am convinced that you are by my side in the battle against the Basescu regime. I saw that the President did not understand, he thinks I am fighting against the judiciary. I’m not fighting the judiciary, I’m fighting him and his tools. I ask you all to be brave and we know that, what people voted us for, what is going on every day will definitely be going on until December,” Ponta told the ministers during the government meeting.
The Superior Magistracy Council (CSM) intervened in the dispute too, convening yesterday in order to analyze whether the Judiciary Inspection will be notified about the statements that Victor Ponta made in the Adrian Nastase case, CSM officials quoted by Mediafax inform. If the members of the CSM conclude that the Premier’s statements affect the judiciary, the Judiciary Inspection will be notified for verifications.
Dispute with the Liberals too
Apart from the overt war between the government and PSD on one side and Traian Basescu on the other, a new dispute with the Liberals has appeared in the Nastase row, after PNL MP Alina Gorghiu stated, in reaction to the sentencing of the former PSD prime minister, that the whole political class should “learn something from the sentencing of the former premier” and should not use the idea of a political trial when explaining the decision taken in Nastase’s case. Premier Victor Ponta commented on the Liberals’ cautious attitude towards the new sentencing of Adrian Nastase by saying that the Social-Democrats have “more courage.” “We have more courage than them. In the case of Relu Fenechiu too (the former Liberal Transportation Minister sentenced in the court of first instance to five years in jail – editor’s note) I came to his defense more than his colleagues did,” Ponta said on Romania TV.
Nastase – jailed, still he could serve less than a year in jail
Meanwhile, Nastase’s sentencing followed due course on Monday evening. The former Social-Democrat Premier was taken to the Rahova Penitentiary where he will remain in quarantine for 21 days. Within a month’s time at most the Penitentiary Administration will establish his detention regime and place. While leaving Precinct 2 where he had turned himself in, Nastase stated that the sentence in his case is “horrific,” “extremely unjust,” being an act of “dirty revenge.” Asked for his comments on the court’s ruling, Nastase stated while leaving Precinct 2 visible affected: “Horrific in my opinion, extremely, extremely unjust, dirty revenge. What can I say more?” Nevertheless, Nastase could serve less than a year in jail, having the possibility of asking for probation after 16 months, a period of time from which the eight months he had spent in jail as a result of the “Quality Trophy” case could be deducted. According to Nastase’s lawyers, a request to cumulate the sentences received by the former premier in the Zambaccian case and the “Quality Trophy” case (two years in jail) will be filed at the Bucharest Court. The result would be four years in jail, with the possibility that the judge analyzing the request could apply, if he considers it necessary, a penalty increase.
If the cumulative punishment consists of four years in jail (48 months) the former premier could ask for probation after 16 months. He has the right to ask for probation after serving one third of the punishment because he is over 60 years old, Viorel Rus, one of his lawyers, stated for Mediafax. Considering that he has already served eight months in jail, out of the two-year jail sentence received in the “Quality Trophy” case, Nastase could ask for probation after eight months.

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