National Liberal Party (PNL) Senator Varujan Vosganian, ex-Minister of Economy, made a new plea in his defence on Thursday in Parliament, before the vote on his prosecution in the Romgaz case, concluding his speech in tears.
‘Since 1990, the state-owned sector has recorded huge losses. The prosecutors have not found anyone guilty for that. When an industry was saved from disappearance, a person was found to have undermined national economy. I’m saying this with pain in my heart: Romania’s economic patrimony is treated with distrust. Here one needs to justify themselves for helping an industry live’, the former minister said.
‘The prosecutors continued their investigations but found nothing. Not even the tiniest suspicion of personal interest and corruption has come up’, Varujan Vosganian also noted in front of his colleagues.
After his speech, the senator took back his seat where he started reading from a prayer booklet and anointed himself with chrism.
The Liberal was encouraged by several colleagues who came to talk to him. One of them was former tennis player Ilie Nastase (PC) who padded him on the head.
Unlike other MPs DIICOT asked to prosecute or arrest and who abstained from voting on their own case, Vosganian did vote. It was a secret vote, using balls.
132 of the 168 senators were present. The result was 56 votes in favour, 71 against the request and five votes were annulled. DIICOT’s request was declined.
Varujan Vosganian thanked his colleagues from the Senate rostrum. ‘I express my hope that this moment will be interpreted as a victory of democracy and of Parliament’, Varujan Vosganian said, explaining that it was ‘a chance’ given to the powers of the state to find back their balance.
Vosganian also made a long plea in the Senate on Wednesday, saying he was innocent and that the prosecutors had not brought any new evidence in his case since the previous negative vote given by the Senate on his prosecution in the same case.
Prosecutor General Tiberiu Nitu sent to the Senate the request to approve the prosecution of Varujan Vosganian. The former Minister of Economy is accused by DIICOT of setting up an organised criminal group, abuse of power and complicity to embezzlement.
V. Vosganian allegedly forced Romgaz to sell gas at a lower price to Ioan Niculae’s chemical fertilizers companies.
‘My eyes are like that, shaded and melancholic’
After the Senate meeting that rejected the prosecutors’ request to investigate him, Senator Varujan Vosganian was asked if he had cried during the plenary debates, and the answer was: ‘My eyes are like that, shaded and melancholic’, according to Mediafax.
‘I was very moved by the gesture of solidarity many of my colleagues made as far as I was concerned, because, in an ungracious situation where the context is by no means favourable to a courageous gesture, the choice of the large majority of the senators was not in my favour, but in favour of respecting the dignity of the Senate’, he continued.
Asked if he had chrism and a prayer booklet on him, Vosganian said that the things pertaining to a person’s intimacy could be discussed elsewhere.
‘I can tell you that very many people I have known in my life thought of me these days and I think that helped me in an undertaking where few were giving me a chance’, he added.
Varujan Vosganian also said that the investigation should have been closed within a month. ‘Under the Code of Criminal Procedure, the investigation should have been closed within a month’, he said as he was walking out of the Senate hall. Asked whether or not he expected that DIICOT would resend the same request, he answered: ‘What is this? The Jder brothers?’
According to the PNL senator, this vote in the Senate will make a clear distinction between political responsibility and criminal liability and the members of the Government could feel free to make daring and firm decisions that are much needed.
Klaus Iohannis: ‘Need for change not understood’
President Klaus Iohannis wrote on Facebook that he expected the Senate to grant the prosecutors’ request and approve the criminal investigation of PNL Senator Varujan Vosganian, noting that from the senators’ vote it becameapparent that the need for change was not completely understood. ‘I expected the Senate would grant DNA’s request to commence investigations inthe case of PNL Senator Varujan Vosganian. The vote of the Senators shows that the need for change for which pleaded both during the consultations with thepolitical parties and in my recent address in Parliament has not been yet completely understood’, President Klaus Iohannis stated on Facebook from Brussels, where he was attending the informal European Council, yesterday. ‘Before justice there is just one measure: respect for the law regardless of personor position’, Iohannis also said.
PSD and PNL members blame each other
Senate Speaker Calin Popescu Tariceanu said that the result of the vote on the request for the investigation of Varujan Vosganian (PNL) could be explained by a change of attitude among the ONL senators, according to B1.ro.
Asked how he had voted in the matter, Tariceanu gave a cutting answer: ‘Don’t you know it’s a secret vote?’
‘There are votes that moved from one side to the other. I understand from that a change of attitude among some of the PNL senators. If you want to find the explanation for this result, please look in that area’, Tariceanu explained. At the same time, the head of the Senate said the speech given by the former minister before the vote was not an emotional, but a sober one.
‘I found the speech to be reasonable, not emotional, a sober speech. I think it mattered that in Mr. Vosganian’s case the senators had given a vote on the same case before, so they wanted to be consistent. I don’t think the Parliament showed tolerance to people charged with corruption offences. In Varujan Vosganian’s case, I stress that the criminal investigation was not requested for corruption’, Tariceanu also said.
PNL’s Gorghiu: Vote on Vosganian’s case, regrettable
PNL Co-President Alina Gorghiu described the vote in Parliament on Varujan Vosganian’s case as ‘regrettable’. ‘This vote is not defining for PNL, I consider this to be an accident’.
‘The senators of all parties have voted today in a regrettable manner, blocking the dispensation of justice. I do not want to put the responsibility of this vote on other parties. Unfortunately, neither Senator Varujan Vosganian nor some of our colleagues in PNL understood that the members of Parliament must not be above the rest of the Romanian citizens. If we cannot trust justice, nothing will change in Romania. I would have expected a more responsible attitude and less emotion of the senator. This is not a defining vote for PNL. I consider it to be an accident. Such situations are unacceptable. PNL MPs who will not show how they vote in similar cases from now on will be in the situation of not complying with a decision that has been politically assumed by the entire PNL leadership’, Alina Gorghiu warns on Facebook.
PNL Senator Ben-Oni Ardelean said on B1 TV that Varujan Vosganian had been saved from prosecution with the help of the PSD MPs. ‘We decided to approve the criminal investigation and voted as such. I am convinced that the PSD senators voted against the request’, Ben-Oni Ardelean said.
Varujan Vosganian’s gesture of embracing PSD Senator Georgica Severin after learning the result of the vote supports the theory.
PSD’s Ponta: Senate’s vote, a major mistake
PSD leader, Prime Minister Victor Ponta, has posted a message saying that the vote of the Senate on the Vosganian case was a major mistake as well as an incontinency. ‘The vote of the Senate on the Vosganian case – a big mistake and an inconsistency! The new Blaga-Gorghiu-Geoana-Vanghelie alliance is showing its priorities!’ Ponta states on Twitter.
DIICOT Director Georgiana Hossu: ‘The investigations will continue’
DIICOT Director Georgiana Hossu stated on Realitatea TV that in case new evidence appears the procedures needed to obtain an arrest notice will be started. “In case new evidence appears, I want to state that the prosecution will continue. The notice in this case was meant to offer an equitable and fair trial. The investigations will continue and we will try to find new evidence that would ensure the filing of an arrest request,” Hossu said.
Ariton asked colleagues to grant prosecutors’ request
The senators approved on Thursday the request made by Prosecutor General of the Prosecutor’s Office of the High Court of Justice and Cassation Prosecutor’s Office, Tiberiu Nitu, for the approval of the prosecution of ex-Economy Minister, Senator Ion Ariton. The request was adopted with 77 votes in favour, and 52 against. Out of the total of 168 senators, only 137 voted. Eight votes were annulled. It was a secret vote, using balls.
Senator Ion Ariton asked his colleagues in plenary session on Wednesday to approve the Prosecutor General’s request for his prosecution, and he was applauded by the MPs.
‘As I have said in all my previous positions, I will not ask my colleagues to procrastinate the procedure. On the contrary, I want this to be over as soon as possible. This has been a subject of debate for three years. I think it is time the relevant authorities made a decision’, he said.
The senator also stressed that he had also been in favour of justice independence and that all people should be equal before the law.
‘I am requesting you to grant the request for my prosecution so that truth has the last word. I thank you all, I am sorry that I am in this situation today, in the Senate, and I want to take this guilt upon myself and not put it on you, therefore I am asking you to approve the prosecutors’ request’, Ariton said.
The former minister of economy is accused of abuse of power and use of influence for obtaining undue benefits. According to the prosecutors, Ariton determined the representatives of ten state-owned companies including Hidroelectrica, Nuclearelectrica and Romgaz, to illegally give a sponsorship of over RON 1.7 M to Rudel Obreja’s company for the organisation of Gala Bute.