Senate approves criminal prosecution of Senator Oprea

The Senate on Wednesday adopted a judiciary request for the criminal prosecution of Senator Gabriel Oprea, a former deputy prime minister and interior minister, with 102 votes in favour, 30 against and one cancelled vote.

“After the counting of the votes cast by the Senators on the Prosecution Office’s request to approve the criminal investigation of Mr Gabriel Oprea, it has been acknowledged that there were 133 voters, 102 of which voted in favour of the request, 30 against it and one ballot was void. Given that the voting session met the majority requirement, (…) the Senate is hereby approving the draft decision on the criminal investigation of Mr Gabriel Oprea in connection with the offences in court file 905/P/2015 of the National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA), the Prosecution Office with the Supreme Court of Justice and Cassation,” reads the minutes of the vote counting board.

The Senate’s decision to approve the DNA’s request will be published in the Official Gazette.

National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA) prosecutors accuse the former deputy premier and interior minister Gabriel Oprea of malfeasance in office for assigning police details to escort him in traffic, a service that Prosecutor General Tiberiu Nitu also benefitted from, allegedly illegally, on the basis of a protocol. According to the DNA, Oprea is guilty of two counts of malfeasance in office. One concerns the use of the Interior Ministry’s human and material resources in order to illegally use police details that escorted him during his travels. The other count concerns the signing of a protocol on whose basis Attorney General Tiberiu Nitu illegally benefitted from motorcades that included police details.

“I never abused the office entrusted to me”

UNPR President Gabriel Oprea voted in favour of the lifting of his own immunity.

“I have the obligation to very clearly say two very important things – to express my point of view in front of you and to show up before prosecutors. (…) I never asked for and never benefitted from anything beyond what other Interior Ministers, some of them present here, benefitted from. I did not abuse the office entrusted to me, I did not benefit from rights or privileges, I consider myself innocent. All arguments will be presented in detail before the magistrates. I ask you to vote in favour of the DNA request. It is the prosecutors’ and the DNA’s duty to shed light where there are question marks. It is my interest for the truth to come to light in the shortest of times,” Gabriel Oprea stated in the Senate.

On his arrival in Parliament, he reminded the press that he sent a letter to the Senate last week, asking for the lifting of his immunity because “that seemed the right thing to me.”

“It’s a complaint, prosecutors have to settle it, just as in the case of any citizen. I consider myself innocent and can hardly wait to show up before the prosecutor,” Gabriel Oprea stated.

Cristiana Anghel: “We are the depositaries of national sovereignty”

The Liberals and Democrat Alliance (ALDE) Senator Cristiana Anghel stated in the plenum that “ugly and terrible things are happening in this country.”

“Especially with politicians and especially with some [of them] who inconvenience, because at some point they didn’t say: “Yes sir, got it!” Does anyone know what the CVM is? Does anyone know what interests are behind this CVM? What money, thousands of Euros are behind it? What does the CVM want? For us to be an amorphous mass, amoebas, but we are the depositaries of national sovereignty. Each [of us] has to vote on the basis of his or her own conscience, if we have a spinal cord,” Cristiana Anghel told her colleagues.

PSD’s Serban Nicolae: “We lack objective criteria with which to justify our vote”

Social Democrat Party (PSD) Senator Serban Nicolae took to the rostrum and referred to the CVM in his speech.

“I am calling on you, because we are in the final year of our tenure, we cannot accept the status that the CVM keeps repeating to us for several years. The latest report says that Parliament exhibits lack of political will, which is not true, and that we lack objective criteria with which to justify our vote. But the Constitution says that any imperative mandate is null and void, we cannot justify our vote before EC experts, we can do that only before our voters.

Procedurally, I would like Mr. Speaker for two things to take place: the documentation sent by the Prosecutor’s Office should be sent to all Senators and it should be explicitly [stated] that in such a situation the Senate fulfils a penal procedure obligation. We have no way of blocking an investigation, but we can start it. I would like not to see the DNA tasking two prosecutors with counting Gabriel Oprea’s official motorcades and two prosecutors with investigating Mariana Rarinca, and I would have liked to see big corruption cases, concerning those who defrauded the state, and that all the assets returning to the state’s patrimony,” Nicolae stated.

Florina Jipa: “All Interior Ministers benefitted from what he has benefitted”

UNPR Senator Florina Jipa stated in the plenum that she is intrigued by the fact that, in her view, the presumption of innocence has become the presumption of guilt, “which is very serious.”

“In what concerns Mr. Oprea, the 14 volumes do not present anything linked to the malfeasance in office crime, they contain other things. All Interior Ministers benefitted from what he too has benefitted. Moreover, he had some extra capacities, he was Deputy Prime Minister for national security. He has to keep the secret, and he will probably not disclose them before magistrates either, probably. A deliberate confusion is being made between what an official motorcade means and what he was doing. He also had the right to something he never used: members of anti-terrorist forces as part of his detail. He didn’t resort to that. This accusation does not stand,” Jipa stated, asking her colleagues to vote “based on their conscience.”

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