Former President Traian Basescu appeared for the first time in front of the High Court Prosecutor’s Office members on Wednesday. The ex-President was questioned due to accusations of blackmail and threats brought against him by PSD Senator Gabriela Firea. In this file, Basescu has the position of a suspect and is prosecuted for threats. In April last year, Traian Basescu transmitted Gabriela Firea that one day she might not find her husband at home. If found guilty, Basescu risks a prison sentence of up to seven years.
Traian Basescu faced prosecutors for the first time since 2004, when he was demanded to give explanations regarding the Fleet file, that was closed in the meantime. Traian Basescu was cited at 11.00, at the High Court Prosecutor’s Office, where he was officially notified on his position as a suspect in the file he was accused of blackmail by PSD Senator.
Former President, booed in front of the Prosecutor’s Office
Traian Basescu arrived at the High Court Prosecutor’s Office at 10.50 am and made no declarations. The ex-President was awaited by a group of protestors who booed him and whistled at him. “Basescu, go to prison!” “You PMP bastard, you ruined the country!” and “Tell us, Base, how much you did you earn for the fleet?, they yelled.
The General Prosecutor’s Office informed on Wednesday that the criminal prosecution against former president Traian Basescu continues in the case in which Senator Gabriela Firea accuses him of blackmail.
“In the case opened as a result of the complaint filed by Mrs. Gabriela Firea, the prosecutors of the Criminal Prosecution and Criminology Section have ordered, through an ordinance dated March 11, the continuation of the criminal prosecution against Mr. Basescu Traian under the charges of blackmail. Today, March 18, Mr. Basescu Traian showed up at the High Court of Justice’s Prosecutor’s Office in order to be notified of the charges brought against him, his lawyers asking for a period of time in order to study the case,” a communiqué issued by the General Prosecutor’s Office reads.
Gabriela Firea: “I believe his intention was to threaten and blackmail a Romanian Senator”
Senator Gabriela Firea stated that Basescu’s intention was to “threaten and blackmail a Senator and to humiliate a Romanian citizen.”
“The first stage of the hearings has ended, as you know last year I filed a complaint against the former Romanian president, for threats and blackmail. His statements were, from my point of view, unequivocal. It was a psychological pressure he wanted to put on me as member and spokesperson of the commission investigating the Nana case, an investigation that concerned part of his family too. I believe his intention was clear, to threaten and blackmail a Romanian Senator and to humiliate a citizen of this country. In a democracy these actions are punishable by law. I can only wait the result of the hearings and investigations. I cannot feel safe seeing him at the Prosecutor’s Office. I feel safe as long as I am a faithful person, I am confident the judiciary is made up of professionally trained and honest people. This is my hope. I talked to my lawyer, he told me that the suspect – Traian Basescu – has asked to study the case, a normal procedure, and that in the following period he will answer the questions of the prosecutor handling the case. I do not know the date of the next hearings, it will be announced by the Prosecutor’s Office. We will continue to show up and will firmly state the fact that the former president’s statements cannot remain simple political speculations, they cannot be treated as such and with lightness, in the sense that anything can be said in politics. I want to underscore that I noticed an idea that is being induced through the mass-media these days, namely that my statements allegedly had electoral purposes. All of the statements I made after the hearings within the Nana commission were made in the presence of the commission’s chairmen. Had I wanted to engage in electoral propaganda then my commission colleagues would have intervened at once and would have said that my statements are not in line with the facts.”
Lawyer Lucian Bolcas: “He is investigated as a suspect for the crimes of blackmail and threats”
PSD Senator Gabriela Firea’s lawyer, Lucian Bolcas, stated that the criminal prosecution has not started in the case, after the press claimed on Monday that the action had in fact started. “The criminal prosecution did not start, he is investigated as a suspect, for the crimes of blackmail and threats. He risks what the Penal Code says he risks – the judges will deem the punishment’s upper levels,” Lucian Bolcas stated after the former head of state was summoned for hearings. Bolcas stated that a criminal case is “a sad thing for everyone.”
“My fellow lawyers who assist suspect Traian Basescu have requested a deadline in order to study the elements of the case. A deadline has not been set, a deadline will be set depending on the consultation of the case,” the lawyer pointed out.
Bolcas was asked how Traian Basescu behaved at the hearings. “He behaved as any other suspect called at the Prosecutor’s Office. Statements will be made only after the case is studied. No kind of reproaches were made because they weren’t called for,” Lucian Bolcas added.
Lucian Bolcas’s statements were contradicted shortly thereafter by a communiqué issued by the General Prosecutor’s Office, according to which the criminal prosecution against former president Traian Basescu continues in the case in which Gabriela Firea accuses him of blackmail.
Gabriela Firea’s lawyer declared for Romania TV that, soon after the end of the mandate, there were normal procedure steps; first, they questioned Gabriela Firea and after, Traian Basescu.
“It is the normal procedure being followed. I made no demand. His hearing is compulsory, the request is actually represented by the complaint”, lawyer Lucian Bolcas explained.
The Firea-Basescu scandal started in April 2014
The Basescu – Firea scandal started after the former President declared, referring to the PSD Senator, that she was “a good journalist, yet terrible as a lawyer”. “She would better mind her own business and take care of what happens on her husband’s fields, where he is a Mayor. For she might not find him at home one day, if she is neglecting him. I understand that there are plenty of bad things happening on his parish”, Basescu had said at that time.
The former Head of the State had also added that PSD Senator Gabriela Firea was a “professional blackmailer”. “It is not an attack against a woman, it is an attack against a blackmailer who pretends respect as Romania’s Senator, after having been schooled by the traitor Felix”, Basescu mentioned.
Traian Basescu also declared that he recommended PM Victor Ponta not to use “blackmailer Senator” Gabriela Firea as his spokesperson during the coalition elections, as she brought bad luck to men whom she said she wanted to protect. Basescu also reminded about Gabriela Firea’s performance in Mugur Isarescu’s presidential campaign.
Gabriela Firea had responded on April 14, mentioned that she looked forward with great interest to reactions from behalf of institutions and embassies of democratic states regarding this “fragrant act of intimidating a Senator”.
Traian Basescu declared that both he and his daughter Ioana Basescu are at the disposition of the Prosecutor’s Office regarding the field in the commune Nana and that PSD Senator Gabriela Firea “would be better off minding her own business and seeing what is going on her husband’s fields”.
Later, the PSD Senator filed a complaint against Traian Basescu, at the High Court Prosecutors’ Office, on April 16, 2014, accusing him of blackmail and threat.
The High Court Prosecutors’ Office announced on April 18, 2014, that they had ordered legal pursuit for blackmail, based on the complaint filed by Gabriela Firea against Traian Basescu, and they had also attached the notification by the members of the Parliament; yet, the start of the criminal pursuit was suspended, because the President had had immunity.
Investigations in this file were suspended by prosecutors until the end of Traian Basescu’s term as a President.
The prosecutors established that there was a temporary legal impediment for initiating the lawsuit; therefore, the suspension of legal pursuit was ordered by ordinance. Article no. 84, paragraph 2 in the Constitution establishes that “the President of Romania enjoys immunity”.
To complaint at ICCJ was filed on May 28 by PSD Senator Gabriela Firea’s lawyer Lucian Bolcas, after the High Court Prosecutors’ Office had decided to suspend the inquiry on President Traian Basescu “for denigration”. The lawyer also showed in the request that the immunity of the President must not violate the equal rights of the citizens in a democratic state.
The High Court of Cassation of Justice (ICCJ) decided on June 20 to notify the Constitutional Court on the suspension of the criminal pursuit against Traian Basescu, due to immunity. After, on July 24, ICCJ overruled as unacceptable the complaint filed by Gabriela Firea regarding prosecutors’ decision to suspend the inquiry against Basescu.
The matter was forwarded to judges of the Constitutional Court who decided on November 13, 2014, that the suspension of the President’s legal pursuit out of immunity is constitutional, and overruled the exception mentioned in the appeal by Senator Gabriela Firea against Prosecutors’ decision regarding her complaint of blackmail allegedly performed by Traian Basescu.
The High Court of Cassation and Justice prosecutors reopened the file, this time on December 30, 2014, under the circumstances that the ex-President no longer benefited of immunity and restarted the inquiry regarding accusations against the former Head of the State.
Prosecutor General on Basescu’s statements: I do not wish to fuel an artificially created subject, my reputation is solid
The Prosecutor General of Romania, Tiberiu Nitu, said on Wednesday, regarding the statements made by ex-President Traian Basescu, that he did not wish to fuel an artificially created subject.
Asked if he had actually killed anyone in the Revolution, as the former president had said, the head of the Public Ministry answered: ‘As a magistrate, I am under a duty of reserve and discretion. I do not comment on and I do not answer contextual assertions made by politicians, assertions that have no legal grounds. (…) Please do not insist, I do not intend to fuel an artificially created subject’, Agerpres quotes.
On a possible obligation of informing the president on his part in the 1989 events, upon his appointment to office, Tiberiu Nitu pointed out that he had been first deputy prosecutor general before, that the subject was not a new one and that he had clarified the mater from his point of view.
Nitu noted that he had not made a decision on whether or not to take the matter before the Judicial Inspection. ‘I wouldn’t like to be the one who adds to the workload of the Judicial Inspection. Setting the joke aside, I have also said during the Public Ministry work report meeting that we should not delude ourselves about the fact that attacks on prosecutors would stop in 2015. Here they are, they continue. As head of the institution, when the activity of the Public Ministry was under criticism, I have always had a firm reaction. As far as I am concerned, my reputation is solid and I believe that the contextual assertions made by politicians cannot shake it’, Nitu said.
On the subject of Traian Basescu’s questioning by prosecutors on Wednesday, the prosecutor general said it was a case dealt with by the High Court Prosecutor’s Office and that the case prosecutors worked according to a set schedule.
Nitu also noted that he had not been notified or informed by the prosecutor working on Traian Basescu’s case on any pressure being put on his.
Tiberiu Nitu: Basescu called my office after Nana distraint
Romanian Prosecutor General Tiberiu Nitu made serious accusations against former president Traian Basescu on Wednesday. Nitu attended the meeting of the Superior Magistracy Council’s Section for Prosecutors on Wednesday, while Traian Basescu was expected at the General Prosecutor’s Office.
The Prosecutor General stated that while he was president Basescu tried to intervene in the investigation concerning the plots of lands in Nana.
According to Tiberiu Nitu, Basescu called the Attorney General’s office in order to discuss the Nana case, right after the distraint was placed on the plots of land. Nitu claims that he refused to talk with the former president. “We never had any talks. He called the office. I didn’t answer,” the Attorney General stated.
He added that he does not know the reason why he was called and that he had no talks with the former head of state.
“The one who makes a call knows why and for what. I didn’t answer. I had no talks with him,” Tiberiu Nitu pointed out.
On March 13 the High Court’s Prosecutor’s Office started the criminal prosecution against 11 persons in the case that concerns the restitution of property and the leasing of plots of land located in Nana commune.
Distraint was placed on the plot of land owned by Ioana Basescu, the President’s eldest daughter, in Nana commune, the same action being taken in what concerns the plots of land of over 100 villagers. The decision was taken in the case in which prosecutors investigate the way in which plots of land were restituted in Nana commune, Calarasi County.
Traian Basescu had recently stated that the investigation is a political fabrication. “I am sorry for the 127 families in Nana commune that have distraint placed on the arable land restituted in 1996-2010. In essence, these families bear the consequences of political actions targeting me,” Basescu stated on March 7. Because of these statements, the General Prosecutor’s Office notified the Superior Magistracy Council, arguing that they affect the independence of the judiciary.