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January 28, 2023

Corruption suspects not to be showcased in handcuffs anymore if a PSD bill is adopted

PSD Senator Serban Nicolae wants to change the Code of Criminal Procedure so that the suspects of non-violent crimes such as abuse of office, influence peddling or bribery are no handcuffed anymore.

The bill has received a negative opinion from the Government, but not from the Human Rights Committee as well, who issued a positive opinion. The initiative is currently with the Legal Committee of the Senate.

Senator S. Nicolae wishes to change paragraph 4, letter (e) at section 202 (regarding the ‘purpose, general enforcement conditions and categories of preventive measures’), under which defendants are sent straight into Police lockups. The senator wants to remove the notion of ‘preventive arrest’ for all defendants and replace it with two other measures – ‘house arrest’ and ‘severe arrest’.

Section 208 (‘checking preventive measures in the course of the trial’) receives two new paragraphs, 5 and 6. The new paragraph (5) ‘The defendant against whom one of the measures specified at section 202, paragraph (4) letter a) (detention – editor’s note), paragraph d) (house arrest – editor’s note) and e) (preventive arrest – editor’s note), is not handcuffed under any circumstance, except those investigated to violent offences, who have evaded criminal investigations and who resisted the enforced measure’.

The new paragraph 6) ‘Measures taken against the detained or arrested defendant for traveling to public spaces must be commensurate with the concrete risk to the public appreciated according to section 223’.

The ‘risk posed by the offence’ phrase is removed from section 218 in the current Code. It used to be taken into consideration when establishing the measure of house arrest. If deemed high, the risk posed to the public would make the judge send the defendant straight to the Police lockups.

Under section 219, if the judge does not order house arrest, Nicolaee’s changes would compel the judge to order more lenient measures such as probation or bail.

Another change would compel the judge to order the house arrest measure at the address chosen by the defendant, plus further advantages to defendants.

Under the current Code of Criminal Procedure, all defendants who committed criminal offences punishable by more than 5 years of imprisonment are preventively arrested and handcuffed, but only if they pose a risk to the public and risk of affecting evidence.

‘It’s claimed that I prohibit or propose the prohibition of prosecutors from doing something, other voices suggest I want to keep the corrupt away from prison. It’s a legislative proposal I hope will be debated on, I have not proposed something that would have been secretly adopted, counting on haste and lack of attention among MPs, it’s just my opinion as a member of Parliament’, the PSD senator said on Digi24 TV.

The PSD senator explained the reason for which he was proposing that suspects of corruption should not be placed under arrest before they are convicted in Court.

‘Corruption is an offence the punishment for which is imprisonment, not preventive arrest. As far as I am concerned, the concrete risk to the public does not come from the seriousness of the offence. The seriousness of the offence is measured by the length of the sentence. Preventive arrest is not a punishment and I would expect people to understand that preventive arrest is – what the text says – a preventive measure, something that should prevent something else. If a person committed a corruption offence, he/she will be punished by a prison sentence, not preventive arrest’.

The draft law will be addressed first by the Legal Affairs Committee.


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