The Chief Prosecutor of the National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA), Laura Codruta Kovesi, requested on Monday the notification of the Senate about a demand to investigate former vice prime minister and interior minister Gabriel Oprea on office abuse and undue advantages during his ministerial tenure.
“According to the stipulations of the law and of the Constitution, the Chief Prosecutor of the National Anticorruption Directorate sent the General Prosecutor of P.I.C.C.J the report of the case, in order to notify the Senate for issuing the demand to complete criminal pursuit concerning Oprea Gabriel, Senator in the Romanian Parliament, former Vice Prime Minister for National Security and Minister of Internal Affairs, on two charges of abuse of office and gaining undeserved benefit for oneself and for others during his term as a Minister”, the DNA announcement shows.
The request issued by DNA to the General Prosecutor in order to be forwarded to the Senate was accompanied by the report elaborated by DNA prosecutors, and also by a number of fifteen volumes including copies of the criminal investigation file.
DNA pointed out that the crime of abuse of office committed by Gabriel Oprea consisted in the “use of human and material resources of the Ministry of Internal Affairs to illegally grant escort for the Minister’s circulation by teams of traffic police.”
Prosecutors say that Gabriel Oprea took advantage of the official convoy even for his daily route to the headquarters of the Ministry and the weekly one at Government meetings, “circumstances that cannot be described as special situations in the way intended by the author of the law”. Also, the DNA document shows that traffic police accompanied Oprea on his way to obviously private destinations.
Thus, “during January 2 – October 21, 2015, 1,607 accompanying missions were completed for Internal Affairs Minister’s circulation in the area of the municipality of Bucharest. The total number of these missions is approximately three times higher than the number afferent to the Romanian President and approximately two times higher than the number of missions required by the Prime Minister through the same time interval, although the latter two are officials entitled to permanent escorting according to legal stipulations”.
Under these circumstances, DNA prosecutors say that these offences have damaged the legitimate interests of the General Police Department of the Municipality of Bucharest, as they detoured resources of traffic police destined to contribute to the fluidity of general traffic or to escort legally entitled officials.
“By example, for the circulation of the Minister of Internal Affairs in the evening of October 20, 2015, the escorting group consisted of 27 police officers located in street junctions on the route”, DNA prosecutors outlined, also mentioning that the “speed of the convoy in the area of the Municipality of Bucharest could reach as much as 120 km per hour.”
On the other hand, the illegitimate use of cars caused a material damage as well to the Bucharest General Police Department, consisting in the price of fuel used on accompanying missions and of the resulting depreciation.
The proof managed so far showed that the escorting activity took place in full awareness and acceptance of the minister, who had ordered the manner the escorting would be completed in. Also, there was proof showing the existence of situations when the Minister was proposed that certain private visits would be made without the accompaniment of traffic police, but he expressly demanded the presence of the teams”, DNA prosecutors outlined.
The second crime of abuse of office that justifies the start of a criminal inquiry against Gabriel Oprea refers to the protocol signed with Romania’s Prosecutor General Tiberiu Nitu, based on which the latter has benefited as well by escorting provided by traffic police teams.
The protocol was signed on April 4, 2014, and since that date, the Prosecutor General was granted permanent escorting on his circulation in the area of the Municipality of Bucharest.
“On July 3, 2015, the Municipality of Bucharest General Police Department adopted a frame plan including a detailed presentation of the manner the activity of escorting officials was performed in the area of the Municipality of Bucharest.
The document mentioned above shows that the only officials entitled to permanent escorting were the President of Romania and the Prime Minister, of all categories of persons who had that legal right (the Presidents of the two Chambers of the Parliament did not demand escorting), as well as the Minister of Internal Affairs and the Prosecutor General who were granted access to this exclusive privilege due to the manner Minister Oprea Gabriel fulfilled his job attributions”, the press release issued by DNA points out.
Oprea: “I consider myself innocent”
“I followed Romania’s laws throughout my entire activity”, Gabriel Oprea started his Monday speech following the publication of the DNA press release. “I consider myself innocent and this thing will be confirmed”, the former Vice Prime Minister declared in front of journalists.
He also declared that “it is the prosecutors’ duty to check all suspicions and promised he would provide them anything they need for the investigation.
The present leader of UNPR also mentioned that political life includes even the risk of becoming a “collateral victim”, that he did not regret his political decisions and that he would never change his principles.
“UNPR is a strong party, despite of the blows it has received from its political adversaries (…) there are campaigns and elections to come and we will prove our seriousness”, the former Internal Affairs Minister concluded.
PNL will vote for ceasing Oprea’s immunity
PNL will maintain their tradition of voting in support of justice requests also in the case of the request submitted by DNA concerning former Minister Gabriel Oprea, PNL Vice-President Catalin Predoiu eclared.
“PNL will maintain their habit of voting for the requests to cease immunity, to green light investigations conducted by Justice”, Predoiu declared.
Calin Popescu Tariceanu: “Such a request must be dealt with during the parliamentary session”
Senate Speaker Calin Popescu -Tariceanu stated on Monday that the request of the DNA to investigate Senator Gabriel Oprea, former Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Internal Affairs, should be discussed during the parliamentary session and that he will consult with the members of Senate leadership on calling a meeting of the Standing Bureau.
“I only saw the press statement. I will hold consultations with my colleagues, the Standing Bureau members, to see if they have the time needed to gather the Standing Bureau and to ensure the quorum and after that I will make a decision. We are on parliamentary break. In my opinion, such a request must be dealt with during the parliamentary session, but I will nonetheless hold consultations with my colleagues,” Popescu-Tariceanu stated at the Senate.