The Senate’s plenum decided on Monday, with a majority of votes, to send the pardon bill back to the Judiciary Committee, in order for the latter to adopt it in the form that the Government tabled on January 31. PSD and ALDE voted in favour of the decision (61 votes), while PNL and USR voted against it (41 votes). PNL and USR also asked for the bill to be debated and rejected.
The proposal to send the bill to the Judiciary Committee came from the ALDE group.
The Judiciary Committee has a one-week deadline.
Judiciary Committee approves pardon bill: 453 persons to leave prison, 3 years shaved off the prison sentences of 589 others
The Senate’s Judiciary Committee adopted earlier on Monday, with a majority of votes (PSD and UDMR), the report that approves the pardon bill. According to the report, 453 persons are to leave prison within 48 hours after the law comes into force, while 3 years will be shaved off the prison sentences of 589 others. Those convicted for corruption, abuse of office or conflict of interest are excepted from pardoning.
The approval report garnered 5 votes in favour from PSD and UDMR Senators and 4 votes against from PNL and USR, political parties that also proposed the rejection of the bill. Senator Ionut Sibinescu, ALDE’s sole representative within the Judiciary Committee, was absent.
According to a simulation ran by the National Penitentiary Administration (ANP) and transmitted to the Senate’s Judiciary Committee, in the form approved on Monday the pardon bill would impact 1,032 persons that received executory prison sentences. Of them, 433 would benefit from Article 1, Paragraph 1 of the bill, which stipulates that “prison sentences established through final court rulings are hereby pardoned (…) in full, sentences up to 3 years in prison.” Nine minors and one 70-year-old convict are among ten others who would benefit from the pardon.
In what concerns the convicts who will get their prison sentences lowered by three years, they total 589 persons, according to ANP’s simulation.
“I’m convinced that the ECHR will consider the lowering of the prison population sufficient. Pregnant women – no pregnant women meeting all these conditions and not being convicted for the crimes excepted from the bill were identified. So, in other words, no pregnant woman will benefit from pardon, of those who are currently in penitentiaries. No person over the age of 60,” PSD’s Serban Nicolae, Chairman of the Senate’s Judiciary Committee, stated.
The Committee finalised its debates on the pardon bill last Thursday, after three meetings that brought a series of modifications to the legislative act that the Government tabled on January 31. The changes included pardoning sentences up to three years in prison, shaving off three years from prison sentences of up to ten years, halving the prison sentences of pregnant convicts and fully pardoning persons who turned 70.
Almost two weeks ago, during the debate on the pardon bill, the Senate’s Judiciary Committee adopted the amendment proposed by the Prosecutor General’s Office, the Association of Magistrates and Serban Nicolae. According to it, sentences up to 3 years in prison are to be pardoned. The amendment thus modified the Government’s proposal to pardon sentences up to 5 years in prison.
Likewise, the members of the Judiciary Committee adopted an amendment proposed by PSD’s Serban Nicolae, which shaves three years off any sentence up to ten years in prison. “Prison sentences higher than three years but not surpassing ten years are to be partially pardoned, by three years,” reads the amendment brought by Nicolae. According to the PSD Senator, around 800 convicts would benefit from this provision.
Another amendment adopted stipulated the halving of the sentences received by pregnant women and by convicts who have children up to 14 years of age. The members of the Committee rejected Traian Basescu’s amendment which would have pardoned women convicted for corruption.
According to the amendment, “prison sentences of 6 to 10 years received by pregnant women and persons who are providers for minors up to 14 years of age, as well as for children with significant or severe handicap, are to be partially pardoned, by ½.” The proposal was made by UDMR’s Tanczos Barna, PSD’s Liviu Brailoiu and PNL’s Daniel Fenechiu.
Likewise, the Senate’s Judiciary Committee adopted two other amendments that pardon in full the sentences received by convicts who are 70 years old or older, and that halve the sentences of those who are 60 years old or older.
“Prison sentences of 6 to 10 years ruled against persons who are 60 years of age and older are to be partially pardoned, by ½,” reads the amendment.
The other amendment concerns convicts who turned 70. “The sentences of convicts older than 70 years are to be fully pardoned,” reads the amendment.
Last but not least, the Senate’s Judiciary Committee doubled, to two years, the period in which damages must be paid by pardoned convicts. “Ill-faith” failure to pay the damages will result in the revoking of the pardon.
“The pardon stipulated by Articles 1-2 is conditioned by the payment, within a period of 2 years since its implementation, of the civil obligations and court expenses that a final court ruling has pinned on the person convicted,” the new test of the bill reads.
The amendments brought by ex-president Traian Basescu were rejected by the Senate’s Judiciary Committee. They included the pardoning of sentences of up to 6 years in prison, the pardoning of women convicted for corruption and the hiking to three years of the period in which those pardoned have to pay the damage caused by them committing the crime for which they were convicted.
After the members of the Committee had adopted, last Wednesday, the amendments filed by PSD’s Serban Nicolae and Liviu Brailoiu, which were identical to Traian Basescu’s proposal to pardon those convicted for corruption, last Thursday the Committee voted to reject them. Thus, corruption crimes such as active and passive bribery, the peddling of influence and the purchase of influence, have been excluded from the granting of pardons.
Also last Thursday, the members of the Senate’s Judiciary Committee rejected another amendment filed by Traian Basescu, which proposed the pardoning of those convicted for abuse of office, and voted against the proposal to pardon persons convicted for conflict of interest.
Despite the rain, on Sunday evening several hundred persons staged another protest against the pardon bill, marching from Victory Square to the Palace of Parliament.
Tariceanu: We’ll ask Senate plenum to send pardon bill back to Committee
Senate Speaker Calin Popescu Tariceanu announced on Monday, at the end of the Standing Bureau meeting, that he will ask the Senate’s plenum to send the pardon bill back to the Judiciary Committee, in order to be adopted in the form that the Government proposed, pointing out that this is the point of view of the ruling coalition.
“The point of view I expressed, the point of view of the PSD-ALDE coalition, is that we will ask the plenum to send the bill back to the Committee, for it to be adopted in the form tabled by the Government. It’s the form we support and, from this standpoint, we want things to be extremely clear, especially after the turbulences that took place last week,” Calin Popescu Tariceanu stated.
Asked why does the coalition want the bill adopted in the form proposed by the Government, since the legislative act was modified within the Judiciary Committee with the votes of its PSD and ALDE members too, Tariceanu said that he does not support the Committee’s point of view.
“Because we do not support those formulas that were approved at one point – it’s true, afterward the Committee reconsidered them -, [formulas] of extended pardon for corruption. I want to be very clear, unequivocal, we do not support this point of view. Other modifications that we do not consider advisable were also made,” Tariceanu added, refusing to tell journalists which are the modifications he considers unadvisable.
Asked why they do not simply adopt the bill in the form proposed by the Government, without sending it back to the Committee, Tariceanu claimed that the points of view expressed by the CSM must be analysed.
“There are points of view expressed by the CSM too, which have to be analysed. In their view, there are certain provisions that make the law unenforceable and we want to have talks at which to invite both the CSM and the Justice Ministry, in order to set these things in agreement,” the Senate Speaker explained.
Tariceanu added that the pardon law will receive a vote within the Senate’s plenum by May 23, which is the tacit adoption deadline.
Dragnea wants Serban Nicolae censured and bill adopted in form proposed by Gov’t. “If I no longer have authority within PSD, I’ll leave and take up professional fishing”
On Monday, PSD President Liviu Dragnea asked the Senate to adopt the pardon bill in the form proposed by the Government. He also pointed out he convened PSD’s Executive Committee for Wednesday, to discuss the situation created by the Senate Judiciary Committee’s adoption of the amendments concerning the pardoning of those convicted for corruption, pointing out he will also ask for sanctions against Serban Nicolae. The Chairman of the Senate’s Judiciary Committee responded by pointing out that the Lower Chamber is the decisive Chamber for the pardon bill.
“I believe the Senate’s Judiciary Committee has rendered this law fairly complicated. I believe the best option for the moment is for the bill to leave the Senate just as it came from the Government, because very many changes were made and I’m very displeased,” Dragnea said.
Asked whether this possibility exists, from a procedural standpoint, Dragnea answered: “Why wouldn’t it? The report can be sent back to the Committee.”
Dragnea said he does not want the Senate to tacitly adopt the pardon law, instead he wants the latter to be voted in the form proposed by the Government.
“I wouldn’t like it to arrive [at the Lower Chamber] via tacit adoption because they’ve just extended the deadline. They should adopt the bill as it came from the Government,” Dragnea said, pointing out that this means rejecting the Senate Judiciary Committee’s report.
Dragnea’s request basically means that the Senate Judiciary Committee should adopt a new report, featuring the text of the bill as proposed by the Government, without amendments.
Dragnea to ask PSD’s NatExCom to censure Serban Nicolae
Dragnea pointed out that he convened PSD’s National Executive Committee (NatExCom) for Wednesday, at 10.30 a.m., in order to discuss this topic.
“I was interested in those amendments not being adopted. I understood – but I want us to discuss this openly and transparently within the NatExCom – that they were told those amendments are fine. When they saw my stance, they realised that in fact that wasn’t accurate information,” Dragnea said.
Asked whether sanctions should be adopted against Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Serban Nicolae and the other Social Democratic members of the Committee, who voted in favour of the amendment stipulating the pardoning of corruption crimes, Dragnea answered sarcastically: “No, each of them will receive an award for promoting PSD once again.”
Asked whether he will propose that the NatExCom should adopt sanctions, Dragnea answered affirmatively. Asked for his comment on the fact that the PSD members of the Judiciary Committee did not respect his request to vote against the amendment that would have pardoned those convicted for corruption, the PSD President pointed out that if he no longer has authority within PSD he will take up professional fishing.
Asked whether he will look for better members of the Judiciary Committee, other than Serban Nicolae and Eugen Nicolicea who, according to him, are making a disservice to the party, Dragnea said: “Here we’re not talking about a jurist’s quality or lack thereof, we’re talking about approach and character.”
Serban Nicolae responds to Liviu Dragnea: Lower Chamber is the decisive Chamber for pardon bill
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Serban Nicolae responded to PSD President Liviu Dragnea’s request for the pardon bill to be adopted in the form proposed by the Government, stating on Monday that the bill contains a series of “flaws” that “render it unenforceable.” “It’s not an answer for the party boss. You realise I’m not communicating with the party president via press statements. This desideratum can be achieved within the [Lower] Chamber. In my view, a series of technical flaws are born in what concerns the text of the pardon bill, and even some impediments that render it unenforceable. But the [Lower] Chamber has the last say, it is the decisive Chamber on this issue. (…) No, we haven’t talked in recent days, no, and not about this topic. In fact, I believe Mr President Dragnea and I talked very little about this issue, without reaching a certain decision, a month ago or whenever the talk about the already filed amendments took place,” Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Serban Nicolae said.
The PSD Senator added that the bill may not garner the number of votes that an organic law requires and may end up passing through the Senate through tacit adoption.
“The report might be rejected, because it might not garner the number of votes that are necessary for an organic law, but that doesn’t mean this leads to the adoption of the law. The law can be adopted in two ways: either through a vote for organic law, the initial form of the bill being put up for vote separately, or by reaching the tacit adoption deadline, which is sometime after 20 May,” the PSD Senator added.
Basescu: Pardon law releases thieves from prison but leaves physicians and professors there. Those pardoned will return in six months
Speaking at the Senate’s rostrum on Monday, PMP Senator Traian Basescu criticised the pardon bill adopted by the Judiciary Committee, stating that it will release petty thieves from prisons but will keep physicians and professors locked up, categories that could be recovered for society.
“I’m honestly telling you that this law has no place within the committee either. It should be withdrawn by the Government. It’s so poorly made that the objective it accomplishes is to release – I estimate based on the form it has now – those who stole from homes, courtyards, buses, companies, and, on the other hand, it continues to keep physicians and professors locked up. I’m not talking about politicians, for them there’s Law no.78 which gives them a special status, but I believe that, conceptually, the bill is wrong. It would be a good idea for the Government to withdraw the bill or for us to reject it. That category it wants to pardon will return there in six months’ time at most. On the other hand, people that can be recovered for society remain in penitentiaries,” Traian Basescu stated.
The PMP Senator was the author of the most controversial amendments brought to the pardon bill, including those stipulating the release from prison of those convicted for corruption, abuse of office and conflict of interest, and of women convicted up to ten years in prison for corruption.