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November 25, 2020
JUSTICE

Supreme Court denies corruption prosecutors’ request for arrest warrant to be issued on fugitive businessman Ghita

The High Court of Cassation and Justice (ICCJ) on Thursday denied a request from prosecutors with the Ploiesti National Anti-Corruption Directorate for the issuing of a new pre-trial arrest warrant on former deputy Sebastian Ghita in a court case called “Ghita-Ponta-Blair”.

Initially, a Supreme Court judge decided on June 6 to issue a warrant on Ghita in the same case, but Ghita appealed and another judge panel of the ICCJ on Thursday sustained the appeal. The ruling is final.

After feeling Romania, Ghita has had two arrest warrants issued on him in absentia, one by the ICCJ and other by the Ploiesti Court of Appeals. The former deputy is currently in Serbia, with Romanian authorities trying to get him extradited.

Ghita was released from detention in Belgrade this May on a 200,000-euro bail. He is banned from leaving Serbia’s capital, and he is to show up at the Police every first and 15th day of the month until the case of assumed identity in which he is implicated is closed. Ghita told Serbian judges that he disagrees with the extradition request from Romania’s Justice Ministry, claiming that he is politically persecuted.

In the “Ghita-Ponta-Blair” court case, Ghita is investigated for aiding and abetting the commission of the offence of using in bad faith the assets and creditworthiness of a commercial company for a purpose running contrary to the company’s interests or to favour other company in which he or she has direct or indirect interest, as well as for aiding and abetting money laundering.

 

New hearing date in ‘Hidro Prahova’ case in which DNA wants arrest warrant in absentia issued for Ghita. Technical problems and interpreter’s absence stymie ex-lawmaker’s hearing

 

On Thursday, the Prahova Court set a new hearing date in the ‘Hidro Prahova’ case in which the National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA) is asking for the issuance of an arrest warrant in absentia for Sebastian Ghita. The ex-lawmaker could not be heard because of technical problems and the interpreter’s absence.

According to Prahova Court Spokesperson Alina Anton, ex-lawmaker Sebastian Ghita could not be heard via videoconference because the connection broke down and could not be fixed.

Likewise, the interpreter appointed to provide translation services in rapport with Serbian authorities was absent on Thursday, Anton pointed out.

In these conditions, the court set a new hearing date for July 6.

On Thursday, the Prahova Court was expected to discuss the DNA’s request for it to issue an arrest warrant in absentia for Sebastian Ghita, in the ‘Hidro Prahova’ case, and to hear the ex-lawmaker via videoconference.

In the ‘Hidro Prahova’ case, Sebastian Ghita is being probed for corruption, alongside ex-Premier Victor Ponta’s brother-in-law Iulian Hertanu, former Prahova County Council Chairman Mircea Cosma, and PSD’s ex-lawmaker Vlad Cosma (Mircea Cosma’s son).

In February 2015, DNA prosecutors started a criminal probe in a case concerning the embezzlement of European grants in a project run by SC Hidro Prahova, company owned by the Prahova County Council.

In this dossier, investigators accuse ex-Premier Victor Ponta’s brother-in-law Iulian Cristian Hertanu, whose company had won a public contract to expand Comarnic’s sewerage network, of embezzling European grants. Ex-lawmaker Sebastian Ghita, former Prahova County Council Chairman Mircea Cosma and PSD’s ex-lawmaker Vlad Cosma (Mircea Cosma’s son), are accused of supporting an organised crime group.

So far, three arrest warrants in absentia have been issued for Ghita – one in the dossier concerning the visit that former British Premier Tony Blair paid to Romania, dossier in which ex-Premier Victor Ponta is also being criminally probed; one in the corruption dossier in which the ex-lawmaker is criminally probed for influence peddling, money laundering and the setting up of an organised crime group; one in the dossier in which he is indicted for corruption, alongside former chiefs of prosecutor’s offices and former police chiefs from Prahova.

Businessman Sebastian Ghita – detained in Belgrade on the night of 13 to 14 April and then placed under pre-trial arrest – was released on bail by the Serbian Supreme Court, on May 26, after he posted a bail of 200,000 euro. Ghita’s passport was confiscated and he is not allowed to leave Belgrade.

The businessman is waiting for a decision on the extradition requested lodged by Romanian authorities. When he was detained by Serbian authorities, Ghita had a Slovenian driver’s licence and ID on him and was accompanied by his brother. On May 19, Ghita was heard by the Supreme Court in Belgrade, as a result of the extradition request lodged by Romanian authorities. He pointed out he opposes the extradition, invoking political persecution. His lawyer asked the detention measure to be replaced by home arrest.

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