Former Romanian President Traian Basescu and National Liberal Party (PNL) Co-President Vasile Blaga showed up at the High Court of Justice (ICCJ) on Thursday morning, being subpoenaed after Corneliu Vadim Tudor filed a complaint on their names in the case concerning the kidnapping of the Romanian journalists in Iraq. According to Mediafax, the two spent just a few minutes at the High Court, since the hearings no longer took place after the prosecutor handling the case invoked an exception of jurisdiction and asked for the case to be sent back to the District 5 Court.
The prosecutor pointed out that in Vasile Blaga’s case the investigation ended in 2010 with the decision not to start the criminal prosecution.
No decision could be taken back then in Traian Basescu’s case since the latter enjoyed presidential immunity at the time.
Since Traian Basescu no longer holds an official position, the prosecutor asked the court to send the case back to the District 5 Court.
Basescu and Blaga left the High Court headquarters around 9.15 a.m.
When they arrived at the court, the two stated they are not nervous. Asked about Vadim Tudor’s accusations, Basescu answered: “It’s the age of informers.”
When leaving, Vasile Blaga told journalists that he is no longer involved in the case, a case that for him ended with this subpoena.
Traian Basescu and Vasile Blaga were subpoenaed on Thursday at the High Court of Justice (ICCJ). The Court is analyzing the prosecutors’ request to confirm the criminal prosecution in the case concerning the Romanian journalists kidnapped in Iraq, after Bucharest’s District 5 Court declined its jurisdiction.
High Court prosecutors ordered the reopening of the criminal investigation into the case concerning the kidnapping of three Romanian journalists in Iraq in 2005, the case being opened as a result of a request filed by Corneliu Vadim Tudor. The latter accuses former president Traian Basescu and PNL Co-President Vasile Blaga of taking USD 4 M from the ransom that the Romanian state paid in exchange for the release of the journalists.
In order to be able to continue their investigation into this case, High Court prosecutors asked the District 5 Court to confirm the reopening of the criminal prosecution.
After analyzing the file, District 5 judges decided that they lack the jurisdiction to try the case and sent it to the High Court.
“Admits the exception of personal non-competence – ratione personae – of the District 5 Court, invoked ad officio by the court. It rejects the jurisdiction to solve the request to reopen the criminal prosecution, request filed by the High Court’s Prosecutor’s Office in case no.1543/P/2009, in favour of the High Court of Justice – Penal Section,” the District 5 Court magistrates decided on Thursday.
Journalists Marie Jeanne Ion, Sorin Miscoci and Ovidiu Ohanesian were kidnapped in Bagdad in March 2005.
Omar Hayssam was detained on 5 April 2005 and, although the Presidency announced back then that he is accused of involvement in the kidnapping, he was placed under preventive arrest for economic crimes in a different case.
Subsequently, in June 2005, President Traian Basescu stated that Omar Hayssam wanted to leave Romania and he had transferred his wealth on the name of Mohammad Munaf, Munaf’s wife and Dr. Mohamad Yassin. The latter left for Bagdad on April 29 in order to contact the Iraqi authorities.
Almost 13 months after he was arrested, the court agreed to release Hayssam on medical grounds, at the proposal filed by prosecutor Ciprian Nastasiu, the one who had asked for the Syrian national to be arrested in the first place. The request was based on the fact that Hayssam’s health had deteriorated after he underwent surgery for colon cancer. Hayssam underwent surgery on 17 January 2006, at the Rahova Penitentiary Hospital.
On 30 June 2006, Hayssam fled Romania onboard a ship. This resulted in the sacking of the heads of SRI, SIE and DGIPI, Radu Timofte, Gheorghe Fulga and Virgil Ardelean respectively, but also of Romanian Attorney General Ilie Botos on 20 July 2006.
On 31 May 2007 Omar Hayssam stated in a phone interview for Antena 3 that he had met President Traian Basescu at the request of Dr. Yassin, after on 28 March 2005 the friend of journalist Marie Jeane Ion informed him about the kidnapping. He pointed out that Yassin and his wife showed up at his office on the evening of March 28 and on the same day he drove Yassin to the airport. Yassin left for Iraq in order to take part in the negotiations for the release of the journalists.
Omar Hayssam was the only person found guilty for the kidnap. He is currently serving a sentence of 23 years and four months in jail, after the merger of the sentences he received in the “Volvo,” “Foresta Nehoiu” and the kidnapping case, in line with a decision taken by the High Court of Justice (ICCJ).
Basescu : I didn’t know the prosecutors tried conducting an investigation. I should have been informed
Traian Basescu said on Digi24 that he was not aware of the fact that the prosecutors had tried conducting an investigation into the allegations made against him by Vadim Tudor about the ransom paid for the Romanian journalists kidnapped in Iraq.
Asked if money had been paid for the journalists, Traian Basescu said: ‘No’
About his presence before the High Court, the ex-president said the judges had not asked him about anything in particular and only asked him if he had seen his file and if he had anything to say.
‘It’s impossible for anyone to be able to produce evidence for something that did not exist, the fact that the money came back to me or someone else. There was no money to come back. The High Court, ascertaining that I was no longer the president of the country, ruled that the Court of District 5 had jurisdictional competence to decide on starting criminal investigations against me.
Traian Basescu commented on the accusations brought against him by Corneliu Vadim Tudor, saying that he ‘lives in lies and delation, that is his life, this is what he knows’.
‘As a person, I would be happy to have this investigation. As a former president, I am not quite certain that such an investigation may be conducted, these are things pertaining to the privacy of the state, the way in which the retrieval of kidnapped journalists is negotiated. I never knew the prosecutors tried conducting an investigation based on Vadim’s delation’.
It seems that the prosecution system today, a system that was built during my term, unfortunately, instead of seeing that the state is impassable to the fact that Iulian Ghergut was abducted in Burkina Faso and no one is doing anything… They are trying to take revenge on someone who did something. I think the rage of some started from the fact that Omar Hayssam was brought back to the country.
I am proud of the fact that the issue was solved and the Romanians were returned to the country, sending out a signal that the Romanian state does not abandon its citizens, what is happening now.
In the case of a criminal investigation, the file needs to be disclosed, there is no other way, no conclusions may be drawn without knowing the complete file. I wouldn’t mind if they opened it’, Traian Basescu said.
Vasile Blaga upon leaving Supreme Court: I am no party in kidnapped journalists’ case
National Liberal Party Co-Chairman Vasile Blaga said on Thursday he had reported today to the High Court of Cassation and Justice as a summoned party in the case of the three Romanian journalists abducted in Iraq in 2005, which was being handled by the Supreme Court; Blaga added that from his information, not one cent had been paid for the release of the hostages ten years ago.
”The case is closed for good. Ms. prosecutor presented the case and said that, as far as I am concerned, the case had been settled on the merits – if I’m correct, in 2010 – so I am no longer a party in the case. Back then Mr. President [Basescu] was covered by immunity and therefore, Bucharest Sector 5 Court will probably weigh the merits of the case. (…) From the data I have, not one cent has been paid for the release of the journalists. That was an international war theater, it wasn’t just us and our intelligence services involved, all the other states’ were too. (…) My only role here was of summoned party, the same as Mr. President [Basescu]. The complaint refers to two persons, Mr. President Traian Basescu and myself. I stood trial on the merits, as I had no immunity, Mr. President had this status. It’s most likely that a standard procedure will follow, and my belief is that they will then close the case,” Vasile Blaga said in telephone intervention at B1 TV private broadcaster.