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Bucharest
November 23, 2019
JUSTICE POLITICS

Amendment to the pardon bill for corruption crimes, not supported by the political leaders and the Justice chiefs

Premier Sorin Grindeanu stated on Tuesday that the Government does not support the amendment filed by PSD lawmaker Serban Nicolae, which would pardon corruption crimes.

“I believe the Justice Minister clarified it this morning and I too am emphasising: the Government does not support the amendment you were talking about (the amendment filed by Serban Nicolae – editor’s note). We sent a bill that did not envision these things, it’s not envisioned by the Government,” Premier Sorin Grindeanu stated in an interview for Radio Romania Actualitati.

Justice Minister Tudorel Toader stated on Tuesday, when asked about the amendment filed by Senator Serban Nicolae, that he does not believe that pardoning should apply to corruption crimes too, pointing out however that he will read the proposal and will present the Justice Ministry’s point of view.

“I’ll read the proposal too and we will draft the Justice Ministry’s point of view. I think it’s rather a personal option, an initiative of Senator Serban Nicolae,” Tudorel Toader stated when arriving at the National Statistics Institute’s (INS) headquarters on Tuesday, where the activity of the Public Ministry was reviewed.

Asked whether he personally thinks pardoning should apply to corruption crimes too, the Justice Minister replied: “Personally, I don’t.”

 

 Kovesi: Pardoning should not apply to those who committed corruption crimes or when damage caused to the state was not recovered

 

National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA) Chief Prosecutor Codruta Kovesi stated on Tuesday that pardoning should not apply to those who committed corruption crimes or when the damage caused to the state was not recovered.

Asked for her opinion on the amendment that PSD Senator Serban Nicolae brought to the pardon bill, Codruta Kovesi said that she does not want to comment on a lawmaker’s amendment but she can state that in the pardon bill case the DNA transmitted its point of view to the Supreme Magistracy Council and fully endorses the technical observations made at that time.

“In our opinion, pardoning should not apply to those who committed corruption crimes and, at the same time, should not apply when the damage caused to the state was not recovered,” the DNA Chief Prosecutor added after attending the Public Ministry’s review of its activity in 2016, an event which was also attended by President Klaus Iohannis.

Asked about the same amendment, Supreme Magistracy Council (CSM) President Mariana Ghena said: “We discussed during the latest CSM plenary meeting those proposals on which we were asked to issue an opinion, a point of view. Obviously, we proposed amendments and we sent it to the Judiciary Committee in that form.”

 

 President Iohannis: Pardoning corrupt persons, totally wrong signal in society

 

President Klaus Iohannis comment on Tuesday the proposals of Parliament regarding the pardoning of some sentences, stating that it would give “a totally wrong” signal in society if corrupted persons were to be pardoned.

“I wouldn’t want to get into details. The situation is in Parliament. If corrupted persons were to be pardoned it would give a totally wrong signal in society. I count on the realism and good faith of the MPs,” the head of state said, after attending the presentation of the activity review for 2016 of the Public Ministry, when asked about the amendments filed to the bill regarding the granting of pardons.

He expressed his hope that no progress will be made regarding this matter.

“It’s very important to see that society became extremely active and if these initiatives were to be advanced, certainly we would have very powerful reactions coming from society for advancing them. I hope it won’t happen,” the head of state said.

 

Dragnea: I don’t support pardon for corruption and I don’t think the pardon law alone solves the penitentiaries’ problem

 

PSD President Liviu Dragnea stated on Tuesday that he does not support the pardoning of persons convicted for corruption and emphasised that, at any rate, the pardon law alone does not solve the problem of penitentiary overcrowding, investments in infrastructure being needed.

“I don’t support a law granting pardons for corruption. Categorically not. On the other hand, there’s no need to get worked up, because anyone can file amendments, but I’m telling the Government now too, just as I told the Justice Minister, that the pardon law alone does not solve the problem,” Liviu Dragnea added when asked by journalists whether he supports the amendment that PSD Senator Serban Nicolae filed to the pardon bill.

The PSD President claimed that the Justice Minister should have talks with the president of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).

“At the same time, he must, along with Government colleagues and the Prime Minister, devise a complex plan to solve the problem, which is also dependent on investments in the infrastructure of penitentiaries,” Dragnea added.

“So, my answer is very simple: I don’t support the granting of pardons for corruption and, at the same time, I don’t believe there is a very big rush with this law, because this law alone does not solve the problem that stood at the basis of starting the debates on this bill,” Dragnea said.

Asked whether what he is stating now represents PSD’s point of view, bearing in mind that Serban Nicolae said he did not consult the party, the PSD leader answered: “Anyone can file amendments. I believe there will still be amendments filed by parliamentarians, it’s their right. At any rate, there’s a long way to go until the final decision, there will be debates within the committees. I reiterate my plea for the Justice Minister to get involved in this debate and my colleagues from the judiciary committees to invite at the debates the Union of Judges, the Association of Magistrates, experts from the Council of Europe, experts from the Venice Commission, because it’s a very important topic.”

On Monday, PSD Senator Serban Nicolae filed an amendment to the pardon bill currently debated within the Senate’s Judiciary Committee, which would allow the pardoning of persons convicted for passive and active bribery, influence peddling and abuse of office. He explained that he does not believe that “the corrupt should stay three in one bed, in conditions of dampness, of precarious hygiene.”

“It’s a point of view. Some, for example, want some to serve time only over the weekend. It’s their opinion that one should serve time in prison only over the weekend. The reason, we will discuss it within the committee, I have no reason to give answers to PNL or PCR or other parties… I will give [answers] to the public opinion tomorrow, we will have a debate with all institutions involved. It’s no secret,” Serban Nicolae stated.

At first, he refused saying what was the reason for filing the said amendment, telling journalists that they are “making speculations at any rate.”

“You will tell lies anyhow, just like you did before too,” Nicolae told a journalist, subsequently trying to explain the amendment. He deemed that those convicted for corruption do not deserve to stay in inhumane conditions in penitentiaries.

“I formally made proposals, they are at the [Senate’s Juridical] Committee. If I were to discuss them with the press beforehand it would be as if I would juggle with the public opinion before explaining to my Committee colleagues. (…) In my view, overcrowding does not affect Romanian prisons or the persons who are in detention [solely] in relation to the crimes they committed. For example, I don’t believe those who are corrupt should stay three in one bed, in conditions of dampness, of precarious hygiene, while other categories of criminals should stay in [other] conditions… In my view the thinking is rational and I want to present these things tomorrow, as arguments. The fact that you want to make speculations based on what other political parties are saying is, in my view, counter-productive. (…) If Romania is forced to pay damages, it will pay for the corrupt and the tax dodgers too, for all categories of criminals,” the PSD Senator explained.

Asked whether he talked with the party’s leadership before filing this amendment, Nicolae answered negatively. “If I had the party’s endorsement I would have filed a proposal on behalf of the PSD parliamentary group. These topics are being debated,” Nicolae pointed out.

The PSD Senator pointed out that around 2,700 persons would benefit from the effects of the law on the granting of pardons. “Somewhere in the ballpark of 2,700 persons would benefit from the effects of this pardon, so a figure below 10 percent of the total number of persons in detention in Romania. (…) I believe it’s not a very high figure. Three thousand persons came out [of prison] at the last collective pardoning in Romania,” Serban Nicolae pointed out.

Asked if he thought, when drafting the amendment, about his party colleagues accused of corruption too, the PSD Senator said: “Categorically not.”

According to Nicolae, another amendment to the pardon bill stipulates the pardoning of persons sentenced to 3 years in prison or less. “I thought that 5 years is a far too high punishment and so I said only punishments up to 3 years will be fully pardoned. It’s true I didn’t think who would get out,” the PSD Senator added.

The amendments to the pardon bill, proposed by Serban Nicolae, Chairman of the Senate’s Judiciary Committee, were published by HotNews on Monday. The main modification that he proposes is the inclusion of corruption crimes among the crimes that can be pardoned.

Thus, persons convicted for conflict of interest, passive and active bribery, receiving undue benefits, influence peddling and abuse of office would also become eligible for pardoning.

 

 

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