The Senate’s Judiciary Committee adopted on Wednesday, with 5 votes in favour (PSD and ALDE) and 3 votes against (PNL, USR and UDMR), the amendments that Senators Traian Basescu, Serban Nicolae and Liviu Brailoiu had filed to the bill on the granting of pardons. According to the amendments, those who received executory prison sentences for active or passive bribery, influence peddling or the buying of influence will be pardoned, provided they pay the damages.
“Passive bribery – I proposed it for pardoning, considering that the potential pardon is to be made with the payment of the damages and having repeat offenders. It’s easy to understand what drives me. Up until the latest law on campaign contributions, all political parties can be accused of passive bribery and abuse of office, as happened with very many people. I agree with punishing those who took the money home. And they must be punished. That money was spent on jackets, umbrellas, because that’s how things were in reality. If we now act as if the Virgin Mary has come, unblemished, and our prosecutor’s offices are setting out on this line, this has created an atmosphere of bringing the political class to heel, if you notice. You saw very well that poor fellow who handed out chicken and was convicted. He didn’t take a single chicken home, but he distributed chicken in several communes… he was convicted. Thousands of jackets from China were handed out. (…) We’re talking based on facts. If we want to handcuff all parties, we can keep going like this,” Traian Basescu stated before the members of the Senate’s Judiciary Committee. The ex-president added that “a start from scratch” is needed in what concerns “this story.”
PNL and USR Senators announced they oppose the pardoning of any corruption crimes.
“PNL will not back the pardoning of any corruption crimes,” PNL Senator Daniel Fenechiu announced.
“USR does not support the pardoning of corruption crimes either. Corruption crimes, albeit a first offence, should not be pardoned. It’s very, very important to understand that once one gets into public office one should not abuse it. We should understand that Romanian society must become more responsible, that one who ends up holding public office should not exercise it in their personal interest,” USR Senator George Dirca stated.
The representatives of the Prosecutor General’s Office, of the Supreme Magistracy Council and of the National Union of Bars, present at the meeting of the Senate’s Judiciary Committee, also opposed the pardoning of those convicted for corruption.
Queried by the Chairman of the Senate’s Judiciary Committee, the representative of the National Penitentiary Authority stated that, at this moment, 246 persons would benefit from the pardoning of corruption crimes.
PSD’s Serban Nicolae proposed that corruption crimes committed by 1 January 2017 should fall under the stipulations of the pardon bill.
According to the amendments filed by Serban Nicolae, Traian Basescu and Liviu Brailoiu, corruption crimes stipulated by Articles 289-294 of the New Criminal Code will be pardoned.
The Senate’s Judiciary Committee resumed, on Wednesday, its debates on the pardon bill, after adopting a series of amendments last week, including the pardoning of prison sentences of up to three years, the lowering – by three years – of prison sentences of up to ten years, the halving of the sentences of pregnant convicts and the full pardoning of convicts who are 70 years of age or older.