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September 21, 2020

New arrest warrant for Sebastian Ghita issued in Ponta-Blair case

Supreme Court magistrates issued a new arrest warrant for businessman Sebastian Ghita, in the case that concerns the visit that former British Prime Minister Tony Blair paid to Romania, a case in which ex-Prime Minister Victor Ponta is also criminally prosecuted.

The decision, taken by High Court of Cassation and Justice (ICCJ) Judge Aida Popa, is not final but is executory.

The 30-day pre-trial arrest warrant was issued, at the proposal of DNA prosecutors, for instigating the use, with ill-intent, of the goods or credit of a company for a purpose contrary to its interests, for personal benefit or to favour another company in which the instigator has direct or indirect interests, and instigating money laundering.

This is the third arrest warrant in absentia issued on Sebastian Ghita’s name.

The ICCJ held on Tuesday a secret court hearing via videoconference in the Ponta-Blair case. The videoconference link with Belgrade was established but Sebastian Ghita refused making any statements, judicial sources have stated.

Likewise, on Tuesday afternoon, also at the High Court, Sebastian Ghita was scheduled to be heard, via videoconference, in the case in which he is accused of giving former Ploiesti Mayor Iulian Badescu a house in return for the latter to finance the Asesoft Ploiesti basketball team. The businessman refused making any statements in this case too. DNA prosecutors have requested the issuance of a pre-trial arrest warrant on Sebastian Ghita’s name in this case too.

Ghita was heard through a videoconference in the Ponta-Blair case on May 22, too, when the secret hearing at the Supreme Court lasted more than two hours, according to judicial sources. At that time, the lawyers in Serbia, where Sebastian Ghita currently is, claimed that could hardly study the file of the former MP and they didn’t have enough time to prepare the defense. In these circumstances, the magistrates established to resume the hearing of the businessman on June 6, on the ground that the room at the court in Belgrade where the videoconference can be held will be available only then. This hearing was initially scheduled to take place on May 17, but Ghita refused to make any statements at that time, arguing that he is not assisted in Serbia by his chosen lawyer.

Last week, the Justice Minister stated that several requests were submitted by the Romanian courts in order for Sebastian Ghita to be heard through videoconference. Thus, Ghita will also be heard through a videoconference on June 8, based on a request submitted by the Prahova Court.

The businessman Sebastian Ghita – who was detained in Belgrade on the night of April 13 to 14, and then placed into custody – was released on bail on May 26, according to a decision issued by the Serbian Supreme Court, after he paid a bail of EUR 200,000. Ghita’s passport was kept by the authorities and he was banned to leave Belgrade.

The businessman is waiting for a decision on the extradition request made by the Romanian authorities. When captured by the Serbian authorities, Ghita had a Slovenian driving license and ID card, and he was accompanied by his brother. On May 19, Ghita was heard at the Supreme Court in Belgrade following the extradition request submitted by the Romanian authorities, stating that he opposes the extradition and invoking political persecution. His lawyer asked the court to replace the detention with home arrest. There are two warrants of arrest in absentia on Sebastian Ghita’s name; he has five criminal cases opened in Romania.


Dan Andronic about the meeting with Sebastian Ghita in Belgrade: There were 4 men in black, drinking water at a table next to ours


Journalist Dan Andronic, who is publishing, since a few days ago, an exclusive story on evz.ro related to Sebastian Ghita’s escape from Romania and on the way he was captured by the Serbian authorities, exclusively spoke on Monday evening at Romania TV about his recent meeting he had in Belgrade with the former parliamentarian. Andronic reported the talks he had with the former MP captured in the neighbor country.

Dan Andronic said he asked Ghita if he tried to negotiate with the Romanian authorities regarding his possible surrender.

“I asked him, I wanted to clear a rumor according to which there was an attempt to contact the authorities, several versions were circulating here, representatives of SRI, SIE, of Parliament… I asked him: Well, was there any failed attempt? And he said no, nobody contacted me, nobody refused me” reported Andronic about his dialogue with Ghita.

Andronic couldn’t give any details on Sebastian Ghita’s legal status, given the too short period of time since he was released.

“Right now, he has a legal status that has to be settled, he has to know what he has to do. You should also consider that he was released from the central prison in Belgrade on Friday, and I met him on Tuesday, he didn’t have enough time even to get used to the state of freedom, or to what he has to do” Andronic added.

Dan Andronic also related how Sebastian Ghita was supervised when he met him, from a restaurant in the Serbian Capital.

“I arrived earlier at the restaurant and I could see who came in. (…) Four guys who were very solid came, the weather was hot outside, there were 30 degrees and they were dressed in black. I‘ve noticed that they were four men in a Serbian restaurant where people were having fun, and they were wearing classic handbags we could see at SPP. After approx. 10 minutes, all of them ordered water, one of them was more eccentric, he was drinking lemonade and eating a salad. I told to Sebi, look at those guys, they seem to supervise you. He said no, everybody here has an athletic look and wears handbags, I guess he said this to mock me. I said, well, however, have you seen before four Serbian men in an afternoon restaurant, drinking only water? He said yes, this is a question, indeed, I haven’t seen this before”.

“Sebastian went earlier, he had to meet his lawyers. Right after he went, one or two minutes later, two of those guys left the table. The other two guys stayed to continue their talk. I said ‘Hi’ to one of them, and he politely said ‘Hi’ back to me” Dan Andronic ended his story.

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