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July 1, 2022

Gabriel Oprea heard by prosecutors: “I was doing my duty”

Deputy Prime-Minister Gabriel Oprea went to the High Court Prosecutor’s Office on Wednesday to be heard in the matter of the motorcycle policeman who lost his life in an accident while driving in his official convoy in Bucharest on 20 October.
‘I came here as a witness, I will answer all the prosecutors’ questions’, Gabriel Oprea said when he arrived to the prosecutor’s office. After the hearing, Oprea said he had “no extra” benefits than the other interior ministers.
“I was exercising my job, I was doing my duty. I was coming from an institution of the Romanian state. I declared these things, I am not allowed to say more than I declared. I had not a single day of vacation this year, I’ve been working from dawn till dusk in a difficult security context. I made several travels. Any time I am called to the Prosecutor’s Office I will declare. I’ve sent all the documents. And I want you to know that I have not broken the law in my entire activity of a minister or vice premier”, Oprea stressed.

Five daily emergencies? The Internal Affairs Minister had made over 1,500 travels in 2015 escorted by official convoy

The Ministry of Internal Affairs sent the Prosecutors’ Office of the Bucharest Court the laws that allowed Minister Gabriel Oprea to benefit of an official convoy, judiciary sources declared, who also pointed out that, since the beginning of the year, the Vice-Premier has completed over 1,500 travels accompanied by an official convoy. A simple calculation reveals that the Vice-Premier had to manage an average of five daily emergencies since the beginning of the year.
Judiciary sources declared on Tuesday for Mediafax that prosecutors have received all requested documents from the Bucharest Traffic Squad and the dispatchers’ conversations recorded in the evening of October 20, when the accident happened, resulting in the death of Bogdan Gigina, the police officer that opened the official convoy of the Vice-Premier.

Investigators also received from the representatives of the Ministry of Internal Affairs the requested data regarding the laws that allowed assigning an official convoy to accompany Vice-Premier Gabriel Oprea with a police squad, as well as the route followed by Oprea on October 20.
Prosecutors also demanded on Monday information from the Bucharest Mayoralty concerning the hole dug on the Stirbei Voda Street, in which police officer Bogdan Gigina documents that should be sent in to investigators by Wednesday, the quoted sources declared.
During the investigation, the information is circulated that, since the beginning of the year, Minister Gabriel Oprea has completed over 1,500 travels accompanied by an official convoy. The file of the cause does not include, allegedly, a document issued by MAI mentioning how many urgent missions were attended by the car assigned to Gabriel Oprea, as investigators decided this piece of information was not relevant at this time.

Judiciary sources also showed that, until this moment of the investigation, no institution of the state that was demanded information tried to obstruct the course of the inquiry.
Thus, in the initial stage of the investigation, requests and afferent letters were sent to the Ministry of Internal Affairs and to the gas supplying company that was completing the works on Stirbei Voda Street.
From the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MAI), the answers were received and new information is being demanded at the time being as there is continuous communication among institutions”, the quoted sources mentioned.
So far, on the prosecutors’ table, there was only the list of persons included in the official column as, in the car, beside the Internal Affairs Minister (MAI), there were two more persons, a driver and an employee.
From the opening of the file, investigators questioned several persons, including police officers of Minister Oprea’s official convoy, as well as those in the intersection, workers completing repair works as well as eye witnesses who were at the scene.
Also, Gabriel Oprea’s personal adviser that the driver of the Vice-Premier’s car in the evening of the accident that lead to the death of police officer Bogdan Gigina were questioned on Tuesday, at the Prosecutors’ Office of the Bucharest Court, the quoted sources mentioned.
Vice-Premier Gabriel Oprea would be questioned as a witness on Wednesday and Thursday, and a citation was issued on his name, the quoted sources mentioned.
The Bucharest Court Prosecutors’ Office announced on Sunday that there is investigation concerning first-degree murder conducted in this case, as Bucharest Police Department and Romanian Police have requested from MAI internal regulations establishing the general frame of assigning official convoys, the internal documents issued on the official convoy police officer Bogdan Gigina had belonged to and data concerning the persons included in the colum at the time the accident occurred. Investigators said they had received the demanded information just partially.
During the investigation, prosecutors performed investigation at the death scene, received data concerning autopsy and collected footage recorded by surveillance cameras, in order to recreate the route of the official convoy police officer Bogdan Gigina had belonged to. Also, stocked data was demanded regarding the internal communication of police officers involved in the circulation of the official convoy granted to Minister Gabriel Oprea, on the day of the accident.

Investigators also demanded documents concerning the completion of restoration works at the scene of the accident, including authorisations, signed contracts, procedures to complete the work, as well as specific signaling and safety measures, the Bucharest Prosecutors’ Office announced.

Also, a technical expertise will be conducted on the motorcycle ridden by Bogdan Gigină, the dynamics of the accident will be established and footage recorded by surveillance cameras in the accident area will be analyzed.
The Internal Affairs Minister had declared on Monday that he was coming from “institutions of the Romanian state” when the accident occurred, leading to police officer Bogdan Gigina’s death. He also pointed out his intention to make a few statements at the Prosecutors’ Office, where he as a witness could answer all questions.

“I was working, it will be proved, it will be proved where I was coming home. At the Prosecutors’ Office, we have to tell these things. At the Prosecutors’ Office, it will be proved where I had spent my time, I have been at certain institutions. I have been at institutions of the Romanian state, it will be proved at the Prosecutors’ Office”, Oprea declared.

He also added that all Internal Affairs Minister have always benefited of a police escort wherever he had do go during business hours, and showed there were laws and initiatives in this direction.
Asked what the emergency of the travel on October 20 was, so that it would require the attendance of a Traffic Police team in his squad, Oprea replied: “Emergency! It is just a police team any Internal Affairs Minister had had at any moment, there are laws and instructions, and the Prosecutors’ Office will establish the actual truth. We have nothing to hide, I was doing my job and it is a tragedy that a colleague died during work”.

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