The Supreme Court announced on Thursday its decision in the DGASPC dossier in which PSD leader Liviu Dragnea was charged with corruption alongside his ex-wife Bombonica Prodana. The decision is not final.
Supreme Court magistrates convicted Liviu Dragnea to three and a half years in prison, executory sentence, in the case concerning the hiring of personnel at the Teleorman County’s General Directorate for Social Services and Child Protection (DGASPC), a case in which he was charged with instigating abuse of office.
Also on Thursday, Supreme Court magistrates noted the termination of the criminal trial against Bombonica Prodana, Liviu Dragnea’s ex-wife. The decision is not final.
The Supreme Court decided that Bombonica Prodana should pay a RON 1,000 fine.
The three-year-and six-month imprisonment for instigation to abuse of office was comingled with a two-year suspended sentence for involvement in a 2012 referendum to impeach then President Traian Basescu, which the court cancelled, hence the new sentence.
The decision was taken by two of a three-judge panel. The third voted for acquittal.
Dragnea was acquitted of incitement to false representation.
Other convictions in the case:
– Floarea Alesu, former general director of DGASPC Teleorman: three years, seven months and 20 days of imprisonment;
– Rodica Milos, former deputy executive director of DGASPC Teleorman: three years, suspended, under supervision, and a five-year probation;
– Olguta Sefu: three years in prison and a five-year probation for abuse of office;
– Ionel Marineci: abuse of office, three years, suspended, under supervision and a five-year probation;
– Valentina Mirela Marica: three years in jail and a five-year probation;
– Constantin Claudiu Balaban, head of the Child and Family Services Complex in Alexandria: three years behind bars, suspended, and a five-year probation;
– Nicusor Gheorghe, at the time manager at DGASPC: one year in prison, suspended, and a three-year probation;
– Anisa Niculina Stoica, one of the two employees of DGASPC Teleorman: one year, suspended;
– Adriana Botorogeanu, the other second employee at DGASPC Teleorman: two years in prison, suspended, and a four-year probation.
One of the judges made a separate opinion suggesting the acquittal of more of the defendants.
The court decision was expected on May 29, but the ICCJ postponed it for June 8, the day before the PSD rally for “the defence of democracy and the rule of law.” On June 8, the magistrates postponed the sentencing once again, for June 21.
PSD leader Liviu Dragnea stated on June 10, for Antena3, referring to the postponement of the court decision in the dossier in which he is indicted for instigating abuse of office, that, before both postponements, lawyers that have nothing to do with him filed “some conclusions” and the judges did not have time to study them. “I know that, before both the first and the second postponement, some conclusions were filed by some lawyers I have no connection to. Because they were filed the day before, judges did not have time to analyse these new conclusions. That’s what I know,” Dragnea stated.
On May 15, when the closing statements were made at the ICCJ, Liviu Dragnea said he “staunchly” pleaded his innocence because he did not commit any of the crimes “that the DNA has tossed in the indictment.” Asked for his opinion on the seven years and six months sentence that the prosecutors asked for, Dragnea said: “DNA wants life [imprisonment] for me.”
“For us, those dragged in this trial, it’s a life experience that nobody wants and that one doesn’t wish upon one’s enemies. There are people who were there in the courtroom and whose lives are ruined, their mental state is ruined,” Liviu Dragnea said.
The PSD leader was heard by the Supreme Court on March 21, for approximately two hours, and claimed that he was never informed, neither by the former DGASPC director nor by anyone else, that the two DGASPC employees were not showing up for work but were collecting their pay checks. He also denied ever discussing with Floarea Alesu the DGASPC’s organisational chart, saying that the institution’s organisational chart and budget rectifications entailed rigorous procedures and the prerogative belonged to the Board of Directors.
The PSD leader added that very many of the almost 2,000 persons employed by the institutions subordinated to the Teleorman County Council were the members of PSD and of other political parties. He wondered whether he was supposed to ask for information on each PSD member, namely whether he/she was showing up for work. “I naturally ask myself – should I have asked for information on every PSD member employed, whether he showed up for work? I’m not showing up each day at the party headquarters, not even today. Neither then. I was visiting the party headquarters roughly once every two weeks. There were periods in which nobody went there for a month. When we had the county standing bureau [meeting] that meant that all members, drivers, mayors, county councillors, a lot of people went there.”
At the end of the court hearing, Dragnea said that he is trying to understand why he was indicted based on no evidence but solely on “gossip over a spritzer,” and claimed that he has remained “the DNA’s target”: “I would like to conclude, your honour. As I said at the beginning, I’ve read the dossier, the indictments, the statements. I’m trying to figure out why I was indicted without any evidence but based solely on some statements, some feelings, some gossip over a spritzer. I failed. What else is there to say, I’m still the DNA’s target.”
The court case in which PSD leader Liviu Dragnea is indicted for instigating abuse of office and forgery, alongside his ex-wife and former DGASPC Teleorman employees, was restarted from scratch by the ICCJ on 3 October 2017, when the PSD leader was present in court. PSD President Liviu Dragnea was indicted by National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA) prosecutors on 15 July 2016, for instigating abuse of office and forgery, alongside his ex-wife and former DGASPC Teleorman employees.
In what concerns Liviu Dragnea’s ex-wife, prosecutors dropped their charges after she paid the damages.
PSD leaders react to Liviu Dragnea’s being sentenced to jail in Supreme Court first ruling
Prime Minister Viorica Dancila, also Executive President of the Social Democratic Party (PSD) deems that the ones asking for the resignation of the party’s leader Liviu Dragnea, ahead of a final decision ‘are heavily violating the Constitution of Romania, the European Directives and the Venice Commission’s standards, all of which do guarantee the presumption of innocence.’
She expresses support for Dragnea at the helm of the political formation and at the wheel of the Chamber of Deputies, as well.
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Internal Affairs Minister Carmen Dan says that Thursday’s sentencing in the “DGASPC Teleorman” criminal file by which Liviu Dragnea has been sentenced to jail is ‘politicized’, adding that she is certain that the PSD Chairman will prove his innocence.
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National Defence Minister Mihai Fifor asserted on his Facebook page that the Government, the ministers and the Social Democratic Party, that has enjoyed an overwhelming democratic, free vote majority in the last election, support Chairman Liviu Dragnea at the wheel of the party and of the Chamber of Deputies, following the Supreme Court’s ruling.
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Youth and Sport Minister Ioana Bran, also a PSD Deputy of Satu Mare wrote on Thursday on her Facebook page that PSD leader Liviu Dragnea has no reason to resign, since the sentencing is not final.
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Health Minister Sorina Pintea on Thursday night said on her Facebook page that PSD will overcome any hindrance and the instability determined by political causes could harm the country, adding that the decision of the Supreme Court’s justices regarding PSD leader Liviu Dragnea ‘shows that the magistrates weighed in the balance people and not facts.’
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National Education Minister Valentin Popa says that the decision of the Supreme Court on Thursday in the DGASPC Teleorman criminal file ‘has got a degree of uncertainty’ and hopes that the future decisions will confirm Liviu Dragnea’s innocence.
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Public Finance Minister Eugen Teodorovici asserts that he has never believed in television justice or in popular justice, expressing his confidence that Justice means, in the case of the PSD leader, too, the presumption of innocence until a final decision.
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The Supreme Court’s decision on Thursday will not influence whatsoever the governing or the enforcement of the gov’t programme, and the PSD-ALDE (Social Democratic Party – Alliance of Liberals and Democrats, ed. n.) coalition will continue the reforms they began for the Romanians’ welfare, says the Minister for the Business Milieu, Commerce and Entrepreneurship, Stefan Oprea.
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PSD Secretary General Marian Neacsu says the decision of sentencing the PSD President Liviu Dragnea ‘has nothing to do with the facts and the works of the file and almost anything with the political struggle.’
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PSD Bucharest head, the city’s general mayor Gabriela Firea says that any Romanian must benefit from the presumption of innocence until a final decision is made, mentioning that ‘the party is going through difficult moments.’
Gabriela Firea underscores, in a press release sent to AGERPRES on Thursday, that PSD “will resist the pressure.”
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The leader of the PSD Members of the European Parliament, Dan Nica, says that the Social-Democrats leader Liviu Dragnea must benefit from the presumption of innocence until a final decision is made, and highlights that there are no grounded reasons for the latter not to remain Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies.
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The PSD Dolj leader, Senator Claudiu Manda told AGERPRES that following Thursday’s decision of the Supreme Court, Liviu Dragnea has no reason to resign neither from the party’s helm nor from the position of Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies, since he is a beneficiary of the presumption of innocence, like any other citizen.
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PSD Vaslui leader Dumitru Buzatu on Thursday night told AGERPRES that a fall of the gov’t is not possible or a change of the parliamentary majority because of Liviu Dragnea’s sentencing.
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The PSD mayor of Cavnic, of northern Maramures County, Vladimir Petrut publicly urges Liviu Dragnea on his Facebook page to hand his honour resignation from ‘the positions he is currently holding’ following the Supreme Court’s decision.
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The PSD Teleorman chair, Adrian Gadea, on Thursday night said for AGERPRES that Liviu Dragnea is further enjoying the support of the county’s party members which will be ‘materialise’ on Friday (22 June, ed. n.) at the PSD’s Executive Committee.
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The PSD Constanta organization confirms ‘solidarity more than ever’ with the party’s chairman Liviu Dragnea, after the non-final sentencing of the latter by the Supreme Court, saying that ‘it is an unfair, aberrant judicial sentencing, ungrounded on proofs and facts’, a wrong decision, influenced by illegal protocols and street pressure.’
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The PSD Sibiu organization considers that the president of the party Liviu Dragnea has become for the second time ‘the target of the parallel state’ and expressed solidarity with the latter.
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The PSD leaders of the North-West region find that the party’s national leader Liviu Dragnea has no reason whatsoever to resign ‘ahead of a final sentence’, following the Supreme Court’s decision to sentence the latter to 3 years, 6 months to jail.
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PSD Alba ‘further’ backs Liviu Dragnea at the helm of the party, opining that the decision with the latter’s sentencing to jail would have been taken ‘under multiple pressure’, ‘through the media, through the secret services and through the street’ respectively.
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PSD Dambovita announces in a press release that they stand by Liviu Dragnea’s side and speak firmly for the observance of the presumption of innocence.
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The PSD Mures chair Vasile Gliga on Thursday night said for AGERPRES that he is certain Liviu Dragnea will enjoy the support of all of the chairs of the PSD county organisations since he deems that the new conviction of the PSD leader is a political one.
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Support messages for the PSD leader Dragnea, also Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies were relayed on Thursday night by the county organisations of Vrancea, Suceava and Hunedoara counties.
USR asks Liviu Dragnea to resign as Deputies’ Chamber Speaker, after High Court decision
Save Romania Union (USR) asked for the resignation of Liviu Dragnea from the office of Speaker of the Deputies Chamber, after the High Court of Cassation and Justice announced its decision in the “DGASPC Teleorman” case.
“It is unacceptable that an offender with two criminal convictions remains in one of the most important high offices of the state to represent Romania. The High Court of Cassation and Justice’s decision today is a proof that justice is independent and remained impartial despite the terrible pressure placed on it by Liviu Dragnea and the PSD [Social Democratic Party] in the past year and a half,” reads a release of the USR.
USR appreciated that the judges’ ruling in this file “put an end to all the years during which Liviu Dragnea subordinated a lot of people through illegalities and by paying them” out of the state’s pockets.
“This criminal should not lead Parliament and should not hold any other public office and PSD must give up first of all the plan of annihilating the justice initiated by Dragnea. A party led by a criminal, who is involved in other files too, doesn’t have the legitimacy to modify the most important laws in the justice field, with the clear purpose of subordinating the prosecutors and intimidating the judges,” stated the USR President Dan Barna.
Protests in Bucharest and other cities against PSD governing and Liviu Dragnea
Thousands of people protested on Thursday evening against the Social Democratic Party (PSD)’s governing and against the social-democrat leader, Liviu Dragnea, asking for his resignation as well as the Government’s.
The thousands of people present at the protest in Bucharest shouted anti-government slogans, blew on vuvuzelas, demanded Liviu Dragnea’s resignation, as well as the organisation of early parliamentary elections.
In the country, other thousands of people protested against the Government, asking for its resignation, as well as that of Liviu Dragnea, Chamber of Deputies Speaker. Over 2,000 people in Cluj-Napoca, approximately 1,500 people in Timisoara, Sibiu, over 1,000, Iasi, over 500, Brasov, 300 people, Bistrita-Nasaud, approximately 60 people.