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March 24, 2023

The policeman and the gendarme

A 9-year-old boy confesses that while riding the elevator a strange man approached him and his 5-year-old sister, kissing and fondling the latter. His parents alert the authorities, who get hold of CCTV footage that will allow in a short time the identification of the paedophile.

Who, unexpectedly, is a policeman. With the investigation growing, it is discovered that, a while ago, the said policeman had been caught by the husband of a woman whom he had assaulted in a similar manner. However, strangely, the investigations into that case made no headway, not even resulting in disciplinary action. To close that case, the investigators’ report invoked the fact that there were no video recordings to confirm the accusations. Moreover, the policeman’s colleagues ended up nicknaming him “the rapist.” On this occasion, the Interior Minister demands that the head of Police and the head of the Homicide department resign.

The latter coordinated the search for the paedophile, who was caught shortly thereafter, even though the case should have been handled by a different department, since this was a rape, not a homicide. The case was taken over by Bucharest’s Homicide department precisely because it is a department with exceptional results – no unsolved murder case. On the other hand, the “rapist’s” colleagues remained silent, a woman being the one who denounced him. The minister’s personal adviser was among those who knew him. Eventually, the case led to the forced resignation of Premier Tudose.

In all likelihood, Carmen Dan will keep her portfolio in the future Government too. And the head of the Homicide department will be sacked, sooner or later. Not because he solved, once again, a case that seemed difficult – for several days nobody recognised the suspect even though the published video images were fairly clear – but because he took the liberty to publicly criticise some of the modifications brought to the judicial laws. More precisely, had they been already promulgated by President Iohannis, the paedophile would have never been identified. Because the video evidence could not have been used. Or made public. In line with the new provisions, the two children will have to repeat their accusations in the presence of the paedophile. In any normal country, the resignation should be tendered by Liviu Dragnea, the mentor of these modifications, and by the Interior Minister, who politically endorses such aberrant modifications.

Maybe with the next cases, which easily risk being left without the identification of future paedophiles – or rapists or murderers –, the people who now support the PSD will change their mind. When their sons, wives or mothers will be the victims of bolder aggressors – who know that they are at lesser risk of being caught –, maybe they will understand where these legislative modifications have led. On the other hand, the covering up of their colleague up to the last minute – let us recall: they did not denounce him, not even when the whole country had seen the images – denotes a climate of dangerous connivance within the state’s structures of force.

After all, the paedophile policeman was the driver of a small-time boss, who covered him up without shame. The system amply cultivated by ex-minister Gabriel Oprea – it seems the paedophile himself was involved in preparing the routes of Oprea’s motorcade –, a system of privileged caste dominated by servility and favours, is sufficiently rotten so as to protect little monsters such as the paedophile-driver.

A gendarme is filmed punching several not very threatening protesters. He is the only one who behaves like this in a wider group of gendarmes. His bosses excuse his behaviour, blaming it on tension. Still, those hit were not some anarchists capable of anything and skilled in guerrilla strikes. They were only some protesters pushing against some protection fences. After the punching, another gendarme, extremely calm, replaces him in the line and the situation does not escalate in any way. In other words, the brutal intervention had been pointless. Subsequently, it is discovered that the said gendarme was the one who protected Liviu Dragnea with utmost care while he was being jeered at the DNA headquarters. It is also discovered he has certain family ties with PSD members. And even that he is the head of an elite Gendarmerie unit. In other words, they did not send some random gendarmes to protect the president of the ruling party, but some of the best. There is nothing illegal in that, nor is he responsible for the implications of in-law kinship.

And it is his right, as an individual, to like PSD. The problem is different: it is not by chance that Liviu Dragnea risked the embarrassment of sacking yet another Premier, in just a matter of months, only to avoid losing a woman who is absolutely devoted to him at the helm of the Interior Ministry. Because protests will become bigger once the judicial laws are adopted.

And the Gendarmerie will be PSD’s only chance not to lose power like it happened in the age of Victor Ponta. With two women who politically owe him everything and who never showed proof of minimum independence, Liviu Dragnea can launch his final assault. Let us not forget that he risks not only losing power but also losing his freedom.

He has his back against the wall, he is willing to do anything. And the cultivation of a new authoritarian spirit within the Gendarmerie does not bode well. The structures of force in a democratic state are always threatened by authoritarian backsliding. Just a little bit of political support is needed for the Gendarmerie to turn from a guarantor of legality to the guarantor of some leaders.

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