Dan Diaconescu received his final sentence from the Court of Appeal of Bucharest on Wednesday – five years and six months in prison – for blackmailing Ion Mot, ex-Mayor of Zarand (Arad County), as well as of businessman Paul Petru Tardea.
Apart from the custodial sentence handed down in the case of the PP-DD founder, the Court of Appeal also banned him from performing any activity in the print or audio-visual mass-media for a period of five years after the service of his prison sentence.
The Court deducted from the sentence of the founder of OTV the time he spent remanded in custody awaiting trial – 22 to 25 June 2010.
Doru Parv, former OTV programme producer has been sentenced to four years in prison. In addition, he may not have any activity in the print or audio-video mass-media for a period of five years after release from prison.
The panel of judges at the Bucharest Court of Appeal made up of judges Raluca Morosanu and Adina Adriana Radu also sentenced, in the same case, Ghezea Mitrus, former OTV programme producer, to two years and six months of imprisonment, and banned him from having any media activity for a period of five years after serving the main punishment. The three will be incarcerated. A decision is still to be made on where they will serve their sentences and on their detention regime.
On the latest court date in the proceedings, the representative of the Public Ministry asked for an increase of the sentence received by Dan Diaconescu, Doru Parv and Ghezea Mitrus in the court of first instance, the maximum sentence for the offence the founder of PP-DD was found guilty of being seven years, under the law.
The Court of District 1 Bucharest on 18 December 2013 sentenced Dan Diaconescu and Dorel Petru Parv to three years in prison each and Mitrus Ghezea to two years and six months of imprisonment. All three defendants challenged the sentences and DNA asked the Court of Appeal of Bucharest to increase their punishments for the reason that the sentences passed by the District 1 Court were not harsh enough ‘from the point of view of the quantum of punishments enforced by retaining aggravating circumstances in the defendants’ favour’, according to Mediafax.
According to the Mediafax-quoted investigators, the defendants, with the pretext of journalistic investigations, ‘did not hesitate to threaten the victims to disclose compromising information unless they received certain sums of money, deeply convinced that what they were doing was never going to become the object of a judicial investigation also by interpreting in their personal favour rather than in the favour of the society the principle of the freedom of the press and of the freedom of speech’.
Dan Diaconescu, a majority shareholder in SC Ocram Televiziune SRL and OTV programme maker at the date when the offences were committed, manager of SC Kundalini SRL, and Gheza Mitrus, journalist, former OTV programme producer, ex-Managing Director of the ‘Atac la persoana’ publication, were brought to Court in October 2010.
In their indictment, the prosecutors stated that, in May-September 2009, Dan Diaconescu had repeatedly blackmailed both directly, during the ‘Dan Diaconescu Direct’ TV show on 21 July 2009, broadcast by OTV, and indirectly, through Dorel Parv, the Mayor of the Arad locality of Zarand, Ion Mot, trying to make him pay them a total of EUR 200,000.
‘The treat consisted in the disclosure, on OTV, of actual or imagined facts that would have compromised the mayor, such as corruption, illicit trading of arable land belonging to various locals who suffered a damage, major wealth obtained in illegal ways and influence peddling with ministers’, DNA states.
Under the pressure of the threats, Ion Mot allegedly paid Dorel Parv EUR 30,000 and RON 42,000, ‘the purpose being that the money would eventually end up with Dan Diaconescu’.
In April 2005, Dan Diaconescu allegedly threatened repeatedly, both directly, during the ‘Dan Diaconescu Direct’ TV show on the night of 20 April 2005, and indirectly, through Ghezea Mitrus, producer of the ‘Semnal de alarma’ TV show broadcast by the same station, businessman Paul Petru Tardea in order to make him pay him a total of EUR 100,000, of which he effectively cashed EUR 4,500.
‘The threat consisted of the broadcasting by the OTV station of actual or imaginary facts, compromising the blackmailed party, such as information relative to his criminal past and allegations of fraud in connection with the Eurotombola televised game organised by the company managed by the businessman in question and broadcast by a competing TV station’, according to DNA prosecutors.