Senators voted by secret ballots on Monday against the National Anticorruption Directorate’s (DNA) request on the commencement of prosecution of former Interior Minister Gabriel Oprea for involuntary manslaughter.
As many as 45 votes were cast “in favour” of the DNA’s request, 73 “against” and six were annulled.
The total number of voting senators was 124.
“The Senate decides to not ask for the criminal prosecution of Senator Oprea Gabriel, former Deputy Prime Minister for national security and former Minister of Internal Affairs,” says the decision adopted on Monday and read by the sitting’s chairman, Ioan Chelaru. The decision is to be sent to the High Court of Cassation and Justice (ICCJ, the Supreme Court).
Oprea, saved by 24 PSD, ALDE, PRU and former UNPR Senators
PSD, ALDE, PRU and former UNPR Senators voted against the DNA’s request to start prosecuting Gabriel Oprea for involuntary manslaughter in the case concerning the death of police officer Bogdan Gigina. Calin Popescu Tariceanu, Ioan Chelaru and Ilie Nastase were among them, Mediafax informs.
The aforementioned source identified 24 PSD, ALDE, PRU and former UNPR Senators who voted against the DNA’s request to start prosecuting former Interior Minister and Deputy Premier Gabriel Oprea.
Former Deputy Premier Gabriel Oprea had asked Senators to vote against the DNA’s request to start prosecuting him for involuntary manslaughter, claiming that since he was sitting on the back seat of the car he could not have been guilty for the death of police officer Bogdan Gigina.
Before the Senators cast their votes, Oprea reiterated that he was not the one who established the route, speed and other details of the motorcade on the evening of the tragedy, traffic police officers being the ones responsible with that.
“I am friends with some of the colleagues present here in the room, with others I am not, but now I want to talk solely about justice. I find it hallucinating. I just want to explain in a very simple and brief manner that on the evening of the tragedy I was returning from a national security institution, not from a restaurant. Everything is closely documented, down to the second. On that evening, around 7 p.m., the police officer was leading the way. Investigations have showed the police car was not speeding. Unfortunately, this tragedy occurred, a young police officer fell in one of three holes in the road. It’s a big tragedy,” Oprea said.
“I went through a nightmare, I tried to do my duty,” he added, asking Senators to vote against the DNA’s request.
The Senate’s Judiciary Commission had issued a favourable report on the DNA’s request to start its prosecution against Gabriel Oprea for involuntary manslaughter in the case concerning the death of police officer Bogdan Gigina.
As expected, the Senate’s vote prompted vehement public reactions.
Late police officer Gigina’s mother: The one who sat on the back seat is living nicely
Carmen Gigina, the mother of late police officer Bogdan Gigina, who died while leading the way for Gabrial Oprea’s motorcade, commented on the Senators’ decision to reject the lifting of Gabriel Oprea’s immunity in order for the former Interior Minister to be prosecuted for involuntary manslaughter. “The one who steals a chicken is a thief, is subjected to the laws of this country and is locked up. The one who steals a bouquet of flowers in the hope of putting bread on the table of her hungry children is a thief and is subjected to the same laws. The one who sits quietly on the back seat of the car, being not guilty of anything, is living nicely, calmly minding his life, he even complains of the nightmare he went through…,” Carmen Gigina wrote on her Facebook page on Tuesday.
President Iohannis: Senate fails to understand the court, not the vote, establishes guilt or lack thereof
The spokesperson for President Klaus Iohannis, Madalina Dobrovolschi, says the President is deeply disappointed by the Senate vote on Monday against the start of a criminal investigation against Senator Gabriel Oprea, and he believes a plenary vote does not establish guilt or lack thereof, but the court does.
“Romania’s President, Mr Klaus Iohannis, is deeply disappointed by what happened in Parliament. The President is once again reiterating what he has said many times: politicians stymieing justice will never enjoy the citizens’ respect or trust. By their vote today, some Senators have once again proved that they have failed to understand that the court, not a plenary vote, establishes guilt or lack thereof. Under the rule of law, nobody should be above the law!” Dobrovolschi said in response to an Agerpres request on Monday.
PSD’s Dragnea: Pressure on MPs is unimaginable
Referring to the Senators’ vote in the Gabriel Oprea case, but also to other similar situations, Social Democratic Party (PSD) President Liviu Dragnea stated on Tuesday that the “pressure” exerted on MPs is “unimaginable” and forces them to become “judges.”
“I have long since stopped commenting on such votes, because as long as we have in the Constitution that provision, which is erroneous in my view – maybe initially those who wrote the Constitution thought one way, it’s just that society’s evolution puts us in the situation in which the pressure put on MPs is unimaginable and forces these people to become judges, which they are not,” Dragnea said at the end of an economic event that took place at Hotel Athenee Palace Hilton, agerpres.ro informs.
He expressed himself in favour of eliminating the immunities “of everyone,” including that of the President.
“Since this provision exists, the MPs are after all expressing a point of view by way of ballot, as they see fit. If we ever manage to reach the point of amending the Constitution in this country, I will propose eliminating the immunities of everyone, including the Romanian President’s. Either everyone is under the law, namely nobody is above the law, or we adopt other models that exist in other countries too,” the PSD President said.
Liberal Co-President Gorghiu slams Senate rejection of former Deputy PM’s prosecution for involuntary manslaughter
National Liberal Party (PNL) Co-President Alina Gorghiu says that the Senate vote on Monday to reject prosecution of Senator Gabriel Oprea was “circus,” adding that that the vote by secret ballots should be eliminated as a practice in Parliament.
“Yesterday’s circus gave us one more reason, for the umpteenth time, to push for Parliament reform. Vote by secret ballots needs to be wiped out from the praxis of Romania’s Parliament,” Gorghiu said in a Facebook post on Tuesday.
Catalin Predoiu: A shameful blot on Senate’s image
PNL First Vice President Catalin Predoiu stated on Monday that the Senators’ decision to uphold Gabriel Oprea’s immunity in the face of a prosecution bid is a shameful blot on the Senate’s image and represents great contempt toward the memory of late police officer Bogdan Gigina.
“The Senate’s vote this evening, to reject the DNA’s prosecution of Gabriel Oprea, contains a contradiction: if the case file is “thin,” why so much fear to have a judge rule on it? This contradiction in fact reveals the great hypocrisy of the 73 Senators who rejected the DNA’s request. All in all, a great contempt toward the memory of the victim and yet another shameful blot on the image of the current Senate,” Catalin Predoiu wrote on Facebook.
DNA: Rejection of prosecutors’ request gridlocks the investigation
DNA reacted to the Senate vote to save Gabriel Oprea from being prosecuted for involuntary manslaughter in the case concerning the death of police officer Gigina. According to a DNA communique, the decision has serious consequences because the act of justice can no longer be carried out.
“The request to start the prosecution against Oprea Gabriel, Romanian Senator, former Deputy Prime Minister for National Security and Interior Minister, for committing involuntary manslaughter while he held the ministerial office, was filed on September 1. The National Anticorruption Directorate’s request was put up for vote in the Romanian Senate on September 19.
The decision to reject the DNA prosecutors’ request to start the prosecution, decision taken by a majority of Romanian Senate members, results in the gridlocking of the criminal investigation against Gabriel Oprea for involuntary manslaughter and makes it impossible for DNA prosecutors to establish the former Interior Minister’s criminal responsibility for the death of police officer Bogdan Gigina. In other words, the will expressed by the majority of Senators toward the prosecutors’ request means that the act of justice can no longer be carried out,” the DNA points out in a communique.
Nicusor Dan: PSD, PNL and PMP joined hands to save Gabriel Oprea, in contempt for rule of law
Save Romania Union (USR) President Nicusor Dan stated that PSD, PNL and PMP have joined hands in order to save Gabriel Oprea from prosecution for one of the most serious crimes – involuntary manslaughter – in the case concerning the death of police officer Bogdan Gigina.
“Mr. Oprea is the product of the PSD mafia from Ilfov. Mr. Oprea’s party was invented by Mr. Basescu, and power was handed over to him by PDL and Ms. Udrea, who used to endearingly call him Gabi. PSD adopted Mr. Oprea when he became a ruling power orphan, appointed him Deputy Premier and built for him a national party network made up of party switchers and persons with legal problems. PNL courted him, danced to his tune, in a bid to gain power through him. At the twilight of his political career, Mr. Oprea’s party was acquired by Mr. Basescu’s PMP – in fact two parties made up of turncoats,” Nicusor Dan wrote on Facebook after the Senate rejected the DNA’s request to start prosecuting the former Deputy Premier for involuntary manslaughter.
Nicusor Dan also stated that all parties mentioned “have once again joined hands in contempt for the law, for the rule of law and for Romanians, and have saved Mr. Oprea from prosecution for one of the most serious crimes: involuntary manslaughter.”
U.S ambassador Hans Klemm: All people are equal before the law
Referring to the rejection of the DNA’s request to prosecute Senator Gabriel Oprea, U.S. ambassador to Romania Hans Klemm stated on Tuesday that although he does not comment on individual cases, all people are equal before the law.
“Although we do not comment on individual cases, one of democracy’s essential principles is the fact that all people are equal before the law,” Hans Klemm stated for Mediafax.