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August 2, 2021

Deputy PM Oprea’s first statement after Oct. 20 accident: Motorcade trip on duty purpose, unaware accident had occurred

Deputy PM and Minister of Internal Affairs Gabriel Oprea said on Monday that media speculation according to which he allegedly used the traffic police squad as an escort without legal ground ”is completely unfounded” and that the details of the October 20 accident have been referred to the Prosecution Office.

”A tragedy occurred in the evening of October 20. Police officer Gigina died in the line of duty. (…) I chose not to come out with public statements immediately after the accident or before the burial out of respect for the family. Police made the details public in a release that also explained that a criminal investigation has been initiated. (…) I chose to be at the side of Bogdan Gigina’s family, to personally extend condolences to the grieving relatives, instead of yielding to the temptation to come out with explanations to wipe myself clean of irresponsible accusations launched by heedless political leaders or of cynical speculation. (…) I chose to make sure that Bogdan Gigina’s family learn how much I regret that all of us at the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MAI) regret losing him. (…) I chose to handle as a priority the fact that the MAI, the structures reporting to it, promptly set at the disposal of the Prosecution Office all the requested information. The accident happened in the evening of October 20, while I was traveling in the line of duty,” Oprea said at the MAI headquarters.

He added that at that time he hadn’t been aware an accident had happened. ”The motorcade stopped at a certain moment. I didn’t see why, I didn’t know an accident had occurred. I only saw the lead police car halted and a police officer running. Another one signaled to me we should take off and the police car and the two colleagues remained at the scene. (…) I immediately got in contact with the MAI structure heads to request the urgent intervention of the Mobile Emergency, Resuscitation and Extrication Service (SMURD) crew and asked to be permanently informed on developments. The SMURD crew arrived at the scene in three minutes and a half. Unfortunately out colleague could no longer be saved. I am extremely saddened by this loss, but I know we did everything possible within human power at that moment to save Bogdan’s life,” Oprea claimed.

Referring to speculation according to which he has allegedly broken the law or illegally used the police escort unit, Gabriel Oprea said they are “completely unfounded.”

“As far as I am concerned, speculation according to which I have allegedly broken the law in my activity or illegally used the traffic police escort, I assure you they are completely ungrounded. MAI and the structures reporting to it provide active support to the investigation and we will further set at the disposal of the Prosecution Office all the requested documents and information. I want to assure all my colleagues, the ministry’s institutional partners, that in my capacity as deputy Prime Minister for national security and minister of Internal Affairs I’ll further do my duty with all responsibility, that I will continue to support them and their families and always fight for their rights,” Oprea said.

He once again expressed regret at the death of the police officer and conveyed his compassion to the mourning family. “Just as nothing is above life, nobody is above the law,” concluded the Deputy PM.

The Bucharest Police announced on Thursday that the police officer who died on Tuesday following a motorcycle accident was riding in the motorcade of Deputy PM Gabriel Oprea.

According to the release, police officer Bogdan Cosmin Gigina was acting in the line of duty as traffic police officer, according to the relevant legal regulations, as part of the mobile and fixed squad tasked with rendering traffic fluid and ensuring the safe movement of the motorcade and other drivers.

PM Ponta on Deputy PM Oprea’s case : Strictly politically is a very good lesson to all

Prime Minister Victor Ponta said Monday that strictly politically speaking, what happened in the case of Deputy Prime Minister Gabriel Oprea, also the Interior Minister, is a lesson to us all.

“Strictly politically speaking, I believe this is a very good lesson for all and Mr Oprea as well. I remember that each morning [President] Klaus Iohannis would call him to tell him to break the [ruling] coalition apart and appoint him prime minister. Then, Mrs Gorghiu [of the opposition National Liberal Party (PNL)] would go for a coffee at the Interior Ministry (MAI), and then Predoiu [of the PNL] would lionise him in the media. (…),” Ponta said before a meeting of the National Standing Bureau of the Social Democratic Party (PSD).

Asked if PNL’s co-chair Alina Gorghiu has been to the MAI, Ponta said, “Certainly, before the motion of censure”.

Ponta said that because a probe is being underway into the death of officer Bogdan Gigina, he will make no comment so as not to affect justice independence.

“Because this is a case currently investigated by prosecutors – as you may very well know, the Supreme Council of Magistrates (CSM) has banned me from comments, lest I affect justice independence; I may not say anything about my own case either, let alone discuss a case under prosecution,” Ponta said in reply to whether he needed a lead officer from the Traffic Police for his retinue.

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