High Court of Cassation and Justice (ICCJ) magistrates decided on Tuesday to change the legal classification of the offence Calin Popescu Tariceanu was charged with – from perjury and aiding and abetting to perjury – and to acquit the Senate Speaker of this charge. The Supreme Court’s ruling is not final and is open to appeal.
The ICCJ magistrates’ decision comes against the backdrop in which the National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA) prosecutor had asked, during the last court hearing in early May, for a three-year executory prison sentence against Calin Popescu Tariceanu.
“We appreciate that the committal of the offence of perjury is clear beyond any doubt, and we ask for a three-year executory prison sentence. A three-year punishment is the most appropriate to attain the goal,” the DNA prosecutor stated in court.
In 2016, DNA prosecutors indicted Calin Popescu Tariceanu for perjury and aiding and abetting, in relation to the statements he gave in the dossier concerning the allegedly illegal restitution of a part of the Snagov Forest and of the Baneasa Farm.
The case concerns the statement that Tariceanu gave before DNA Brasov on 15 April 2016, in which he “falsely pointed out he was unaware of: – the restitution, to Paul Philippe Al Romaniei, of a plot of land located in Baneasa (the former Royal Farm) and in Snagov (Fundul Sacului forest plot); – the involvement, in the restitution procedures, of defendants Tal Silberstein, Beny Steinmetz, Moshe Agavi and of other persons; – the paperwork concerning the sale of these assets,” the DNA explained at the time.
According to prosecutors, Calin Popescu Tariceanu “also made false statements and did not say everything he knew about the relationship he had – against the aforementioned backdrop – with defendants Tal Silberstein, Andronic Dan Catalin and Truica Remus, the meetings and talks he had with the latter regarding the notary public fees for the sale of the aforementioned real-estate assets, and the way the claimed assets were obtained and capitalised on.”
Tariceanu after court verdict: The battle I waged is the battle of an entire nation to free itself from the handcuffs of the deep state
After ICCJ magistrates decided to acquit him in the dossier in which he was charged with perjury, Calin Popescu Tariceanu stated on Tuesday that “the battle I waged is the battle of an entire nation to free itself from the handcuffs of the deep state.”
“After all, the battle I waged is the battle of an entire nation to free itself from the handcuffs of the deep state, it’s a battle I waged in [sic] a democratic system in which respect for the rights and freedoms of the citizen and the rule of law would prevail. These were the values I believed in from the start, when I entered the political fray, these are the values in which both my ALDE colleagues and I believe in and which I want to restore to Romanians. ALDE will continue to lead this battle that represents for us a duty, an obligation toward Romania,” Tariceanu told Antena3 private broadcaster.
The Senate Speaker added that the fight against corruption must not become “a front for political fighting.”
“People have been dragged through court, have been charged, subjected to public scorn, some of them arrested without being tried, kept detained for long periods only to be acquitted in the end. People have seen their professional careers, reputations and families destroyed. We must all accept that we cannot depart from the norms of the rule of law in the name of a goal that is honest – fighting corruption. Fighting corruption cannot be a front for political fighting,” Calin Popescu Tariceanu added.
Reactions to Senate Speaker’s acquittal
PSD lawmaker Florin Iordache: It’s a sign of normality
Referring to the ICCJ decision to acquit Senate Speaker Calin Popescu Tariceanu of perjury charges in the court of first instance, House lawmaker Florin Iordache (PSD) stated for Mediafax on Tuesday that this is sign of normality for the Romanian judicial system.
Asked for his comment on the High Court of Justice magistrates’ decision to acquit the Senate Speaker, Florin Iordache said: “It’s a sign of normality.”
The Social Democrat added that the High Court’s decision also shows that the dossiers in which politicians such as Calin Popescu Tariceanu, Victor Ponta and Toni Grebla were involved were made “on orders.”
PSD Senator Serban Nicolae: The influence of some occult forces has been considerably diminished
Referring to the ICCJ decision to acquit Senate Speaker Calin Popescu Tariceanu of perjury charges in the court of first instance, PSD Senator Serban Nicolae stated that this is a sign that judges are regaining their freedom and that the link between the SRI and the judicial system, made possible by secret protocols, has been shattered.
“I see this against the backdrop of all recent verdicts, and I can’t help but notice a direct link between the breaking of that omerta that worked through secret protocols, through mixed teams, through Securitate-like procedures in the Romanian judicial system, and the fact that judges are regaining their dignity and freedom to judge based on the law and on their own conscience, as was the saying once but now it’s no longer the case after Macovei’s reform. Obviously, the influence of some occult forces, of some Securitate-like forces that were juggling with the judiciary’s repressive instruments in the political spectrum, has been diminished,” PSD Senator Serban Nicolae stated.
Asked if he also refers to the Supreme Court’s decision to acquit, in the court of first instance, ex-Premier Victor Ponta and former Constitutional Court judge Toni Grebla, the PSD Senator responded: “Categorically. All of this shows that there was in fact a form of brutal interference in the democratic game of the political parties, through some occult powers’ instruments of force. That is why there was the need for secret protocols, for mixed teams, for the infringement of criminal procedure norms, that is why this desperate resistance put up by those who know they were part of this odious repressive system, that is why we still know only a small part of what has happened in the last 12 years, that is why we are not allowed to touch the Criminal Code and the Criminal Procedure Code, even though they are flagrantly and consistently unconstitutional, that is why we are not allowed to touch the accountability of magistrates.”
Labour Minister Olguta Vasilescu: Who is paying for the period in which he was demonised?
On Tuesday, Labour Minister Lia Olguta Vasilescu complained that nobody is held accountable, for the time being, for the acquittal of Calin Popescu Tariceanu, considering that the Senate Speaker was “demonised, discredited, dragged through lawsuits.”
“Calin Popescu Tariceanu ACQUITTED! Who pays for the whole period in which he was demonised, discredited, dragged through lawsuits? For the time being, nobody!” Labour Minister Lia Olguta Vasilescu wrote on Facebook.
Ponta: I believed in his innocence
Ex-Premier Victor Ponta, recently acquitted by the Supreme Court in a dossier handled by the DNA, expressed his joy with the Senate Speaker’s acquittal.
“I am very happy for the acquittal verdict ruled in Calin Popescu Tariceanu’s case – I believed in his innocence and I stated it, as a witness, before the prosecutor handling the case and before the ICCJ judges.
“I welcome the fact that we have judges that withstand any pressure from outside the courtroom and who submit only to the law and to their own conviction / however, I wonder what happens to those who accuse without evidence and without knowing the criminal provisions? Nothing? That’s not normal in a rule of law,” Victor Ponta wrote on Facebook.
Gerea: Tariceanu’s trial, the result of the protocols between SRI and institutions in the judiciary
The ALDE Vice Chairman Andrei Gerea stated on Wednesday, in the context of Calin Popescu Tariceanu’s acquittal by the first court, that the trial of the ALDE Chairman is the result of the protocols concluded by SRI with institutions in the judiciary.
“The ALDE Chairman’s trial is the result of the protocols concluded by SRI with institutions in the judiciary, and particularly with DNA. These protocols have worked in the recent years according to the logic that politicians were targets, and those who were inconvenient had to be eliminated or silenced” Andrei Gerea stated in a press release sent to MEDIAFAX.
The ALDE Vice Chairman also said that the decision to acquit Calin Popescu Tariceanu after two years in which he was forced to go to DNA is a normal one.
“This is a proof that there are also judges in Romania who understand to exercise the role given by the Constitution, despite all the pressures that existed all this time. DNA has patented in the recent years a way of action, by which a criminal case is crated to some people only to be labeled as ‘criminals’. The ALDE Chairman was sent to judgement only a few weeks before the electoral campaign with a clear purpose: to diminish the electoral chances. Some have hurried to label him, and the preferred label of the parallel system, of President Iohannis and of PNL-USR, is ‘criminal’, which in their way of thinking wouldn’t have allowed him to have an opinion” the ALDE Chairman added.
Norica Nicolai, after C.P. Tariceanu’s acquittal by the first court: Only naïve people can think that there weren’t pressures on judges
The President of the ALDE National Council, Norica Nicolai, stated on Wednesday, in the context of Calin Popescu Tariceanu’s acquittal by the first court, that only naïve people can think that there weren’t pressures on judges to issue an unfavorable sentence against the ALDE leader.
“The judges’ decision in Calin Popescu Tariceanu’s case shows that we have judges who act independently and who resist to the existing pressures. We should be naïve to think that there weren’t pressures on judges in order to issue an unfavorable decision in Calin Popescu Tariceanu’s case, especially since this is after a long series of acquittals from the recent period. But, despite all the existing pressures, judges confirmed what me and my colleagues from ALDE knew, namely that Calin Popescu-Tariceanu is innocent” stated the President of the ALDE National Council, Norica Nicolai, in a press release sent to MEDIAFAX.
Nicolai is asking herself, in the context of the court’s decision to acquit Calin Popescu Tariceanu, who is liable for the years spent before the court.
“After this decision of the judges, the big question, one that is much circulated recently, is: ‘Who is liable for the two years in which Calin Popescu Tariceanu was denigrated, his image was affected, his family had to suffer the opprobrium of a certain part of the society, only because he was unfairly labeled as ‘criminal’? This is a common sense question to which nobody has an answer, neither those with high positions, nor the little servants who apply the label of ‘criminal’ to people who should benefit from the presumption of innocence. But the presumption of innocence has become a utopic issue in the Romanian society, since it is not respected by the first man in the state himself. Regardless of the pressures that will exist, of the continuous threats against Calin Popescu-Tariceanu or against ALDE, I assure the Romanians who trust us that we will continue militate for the citizens’ rights and freedoms, for the elimination of the abuses from the Romanian judiciary. But in order for these things to happen, we need a real reform of justice in Romania” Nicolai also stated.