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January 26, 2023

Hrebenciuc resigns from Parliament. Green light for arrest?

PSD MP Viorel Hrebenciuc, whom the National Anti-corruption Department (DNA) has requested to arrest in two different cases, resigned from Parliament yesterday. After he presented his resignation as a member of Parliament, he said it was totally his decision. ‘I wish to preserve my dignity, as I have done all my life. My resignation is effective as of Monday. It is my personal decision, we each live our lives the way we think it’s best’, Hrebenciuc said. He appeared trustful in that he would be back in Parliament in 2016 and noted he would not also resign from PSD. ‘I am not disappointed, I am very strong mentally speaking, exactly as you know me. I trust the justice system. After 18 years in Parliament, this doesn’t come easy. I will be back in 2016. I regret nothing of what I have said. I am not resigning from PSD’, Hrebenciuc said.
Zgonea: ‘Mr. Hrebenciuc’s move is normal in a European Romania’
Hrebenciuc’s resignation was announced by lower Chamber Speaker Valeriu Zgonea (Social-Democrat). He said Viorel Hrebenciuc had made the decision in order to put himself at the disposal of justice. ‘This is a very simple matter Mr. Hrebenciuc, being a man with political experience, interpreted in a certain key – he doesn’t wish to be a subject of debate and the main topic of this election campaign’, said PSD Vice-President Valeriu Zgonea. He stressed that his colleague had chosen to make the gesture in order to not hurt the PSD campaign for the presidential election. ‘In order to prevent the campaign topic in the next couple of weeks from being himself and what he has done, he has decided to submit his resignation as a member of Parliament and go before justice’, Zgonea said, adding that it seemed a normal gesture to him. ‘From my point of view, the gesture of Mr. Hrebenciuc is a normal gesture in a European Romania and we should all appreciate it and recognise the fact that today, 25 years after the Revolution, there are people who have the dignity, like in any other European state, to present their resignation when there are suspicions concerning them’, Zgonea said. He noted that, before the court passed a final decision, Hrebenciuc would continue to be a member of PSD. Viorel Hrebenciuc has been an MP since 1996 and is Deputy Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies.
On Monday, he was told by DNA that he was under criminal investigation in a new case where he had been charged with instigation to the commission of the criminal offence of using, in any manner, either directly or indirectly, information that is not meant to be public or unauthorised access to such information, influence peddling, use of influence for the purpose of obtaining inducements and buying influence.
According to DNA, Hrebenciuc allegedly learnt inside DNA information with the assistance of the former head of the Protection and Security Service (SPP), Dumitru Iliescu, who obtained information on the surveillance of the MP from an employee of DNA.
PSD spokesman Dan Sova is also under criminal investigation for influence peddling in the same case.
Ponta: ‘We arrest people who want to become party presidents’
Prime-Minister Victor Ponta has denied having had any role in Hrebenciuc’s decision to resign. ‘It’s his decision and is one by which he is removing justice from the election campaign, where it has been used since yesterday’, Ponta said. Asked if he expected the same gesture of honour also from Dan Sova, who is also a suspect in an influence peddling case alongside Hrebenciuc, Ponta repeated something he had said Monday night – that it is not illegal for a person to wish to become the president of a political party. ‘It is not illegal to wish to be the president of a party. I don’t understand why we should arrest someone because they want to acquire a position. I also wanted to become the president of PSD and, fortunately, no one thought I should be arrested back in 2010. So are we arresting people who want to be party presidents?’ I believe we are travelling back to the time of Ceausescu or even Stalin, and I don’t want that to happen’, the premier said. Asked with whom he had negotiated to become PSD president, he said: ‘With everybody’.
Legal Committee defers decision on remand request
Viorel Hrebenciuc’s resignation from Parliament and, by that, as Deputy Speaker of the lower Chamber, will become effective next Monday, when it is read out in plenary session. After that, the Chamber leaders will write to DNA to inform them that Hrebenciuc is no longer a member of Parliament, Mediafax says.
The decision to postpone making a decision on DNA’s request to arrest Hrebenciuc and Adam was adopted by the Legal Affairs Committee 15 votes to seven and one abstention. The date for a new sitting was not set, as the Standing Bureau will decide. The Legal Committee will ask the Standing Bureau to decide as a meter of urgency if V. Hrebenciuc is still a member of the Chamber of Deputies, Committee Chairman Bogdan Ciuca said on Tuesday, also pointing out that it had been the reason for which the making of a decision on the Hrebenciuc and Ioan Adam cases had been deferred.
‘This is what we want the Standing Bureau to clarify – if Viorel Hrebenciuc is still an MP, this is one of the reasons for which we postponed making a decision. There is an article in the Regulation which says that a resignation becomes effective on the date when it is submitted, but there is also a condition that it has to be communicated in plenary sitting”, Ciuca said.
He added that the Committee was anyway supposed to sit on Wednesday to discuss the additional letter regarding Viorel Hrebenciuc in a different case, another situation that needs clarifying by the Standing Bureau.
Ciuca also explained that the members of the Committee could have not only made a decision in the case of Ioan Adam, sine the request had been made for both MPs– Hrebenciuc and Adam, and there had been fears that Adam’s lawyers might claim a possible miscarriage of procedure.
Investigated in Hrebenciuc case, former SPP boss Dumitru Iliescu is not in the country
Dumitru Iliescu, the former head of the Guard and Protection Service (SPP), prosecuted for corruption in the Hrebenciuc case, is not in the country. He told Romania TV by phone that he was contacted by a DNA officer whom he told that he is in Paris but not in order to avoid the investigation. Likewise, he added that he has left for Romania in order to place himself at the disposal of the investigation authorities. “Yes, I am not in the country, this morning a police under-commissary called me from the DNA and told me that he invites me at the DNA at noon. I told him I am not in the country, that I am in Paris, and he asked me when I will return. And I told them that I believe I will return on Saturday, but if that is a problem he should notify me, should contact me. He told me that that is not necessary. Afterwards, they contacted me now, they told me a search is taking place at my house and I should send a lawyer. I am not trying to avoid the investigation, and I have now left for Romania in order to place myself at their disposal,” Iliescu stated for Romania TV. It seems Iliescu cannot travel by plane because he has heart problems, so he will return to the country by car.

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