JUSTICE

Bargaining with freedom on the table

The New Code of Criminal Procedure allows defendants who admit to the commission of the offence to benefit from a quicker trial and receive more lenient punishments. And yet, why have we not seen the prosecutors being compliant in all such situations? After all, ministers, influential politicians or businesspeople worth millions of euro have all admitted to serious corruption crimes in order to be able to negotiate their sentences. Here’s the answer – the Code is indulgent, but not with those who are accused of grievous offences such as taking bribe or abuse of power.

During the first half of the year, 5% of the suspects investigated into on corruption suspicions preferred to plead guilty in order to make sure they do not go behind bars, Digi24.ro says.

The number of corruption suspects who, in the course of the criminal investigation, admit to the commission of the offences in order to be able to negotiate the punishment with the case prosecutor has gone up. During the entire 2014, DNA signed 47 such documents, his year, between January and June, 39 defendants resorted to this method in order to qualify for more lenient punishments.

But not in all cases do prosecutors settle for such deals. Viorel Hrebenciuc also tried to make an agreement, after being arrested in the case concerning the illegally returned forests in Bacau County, but his offer was declined by the investigators.

In his case, the National Anti-corruption Directorate (DNA) indictment notes: ‘Whilst the request is for accepting a custodial sentence, its length of four years is insufficient for fulfilling the aim of the criminal punishment, the position of the defendant and the need for the punishment to be suitable for general prevention’.

Neither his son Andrei Hrebenciuc was able to convince the prosecutors to ask for a suspended sentence in Court. After he had been brought to trial, he asked the High Court judges to hear his case in a simplified procedure, as he had admitted to the commission of the offences. Under the law, the maximum penalty the Court may give in such a situation is shorter by one third than the one stipulated in the Criminal Code.

Another person who did plead guilty but were turned down during the negotiations is ex-Finance Minister Darius Valcov. The former mayor of Slatina is under investigation is there different corruption cases.

‘When he was heard as a defendant, Valcov Darius admitted to having received EUR 1.5 M from Berna Theodor, both cash and via various companies, in return for him using his influence with persons whose job was to award contracts, should S.C. Tehnologica Radion have not won the tendering procedure’, says the DNA indictment.

The Cocos family has also admitted to the corruption charges. Dorin and Alin Cocos have also made a series of denunciations leading to new investigations being opened. They hope this kind of attitude will help them obtain more lenient punishments in the cases where there are currently on trial.

In the case of Siveco company founder Irina Socol, the judges handed down a custodial sentence in spite of the defendant having admitted to the commission of the offences of tax evasion and having paid for the damage caused to the state in full, Digi24.ro concludes.

 

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