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May 28, 2022

Elena Udrea remains in custody in Bulgaria; Bulgarian judges to make a decision on Saturday on Romania’s request to extradite her

Udrea was sentenced on Thursday for corruption and once again tried to dodge the law by leaving the country

Romania’s former Minister of Tourism Elena Udrea on Friday was taken to a court in Bulgaria as part of the procedures to extradite her to Romania. She was apprehended on Thursday night close to the border with Greece, after the authorities in Bucharest had put out an European arrest warrant on her.Bulgarian judges have not made a decision on Romania’s request to extradite her to serve a 6-year prison sentence in the “Gala Bute” case. According to the lawyer representing Elena Udrea, the judges postponed the trial for Saturday because they did not have an authorized translator in the courtroom.

Elena Udrea did not stay in the courtroom for more than 20 minutes, and after her departure, the authorities announced that she remains in custody in Bulgaria.

“She did not say anything because the translated documents did not arrive. In addition, there was no authorized translator. This is also the reason why it was postponed for tomorrow (Saturday ed.). There is no translator in this city, it must be brought from Sofia. I spoke to her. She doesn’t know anything because when she left Romania, the court had not yet ruled. She stated that she has a little girl, a family and that she wants to return to  them “, said Elena Udrea’s lawyer, according to România TV.

Elena Udrea had left Romania on Thursday morning right before getting the court’s six-year prison sentence for bribery and abuse in office in the “Bute Boxing Gala” case. Border police said the former minister legally left the country as no interdiction had been issued before her departure.

A panel of five Supreme Court judges on Thursday denied the appeal filed by  Elena Udrea and the other defendants in the “Bute Boxing Gala” case, thus sustaining a six-year in prison sentence.

Former chairman of the Romanian Boxing Federation Rudel Obreja will also go to prison to will serve a five-year time, as will Tudor Breazu, who was handed a three-year in prison sentence.

The other defendants were handed suspended sentences: Stefan Lungu (Udrea’s former counsellor) – one year and six months; Gheorghe Nastasia (former top official with the Ministry of Development) – four years; Ana Maria Topoliceanu (former director of the National Investment Company) – three years; Dragos Marius Botoroaga (business administrator) – two years and six months.

The sentences in this case had been suspended in December 2018, after the Constitutional Court ruled that the law had not been complied with when the panels of five judges of the Supreme Court were constituted, and the final sentence in the ‘Bute Boxing Gala’ case was issued by an illicit panel.

In practice, by denying the challenge, the Supreme Court applied a ruling of the Court of Justice of the European Union that says national judges can overrule a decision of the Constitutional Court if sentences in European funds fraud cases are overturned.

The Romanian judges also confirmed the supremacy of EU law over domestic law by not applying a decision of the Constitutional Court, Agerpres informs.

The Romanian judges thus confirmed the precedence of EU law over the national law, by overturning a Constitutional Court ruling.

In the “Bute Gala” trial, Udrea was accused of having coordinated a system through which people close to her would receive money from businesses in exchange for timely payments for the services provided to the ministry headed by Udrea.

According to investigators, the money reached Elena Udrea directly, in cash or as payments for goods or services, or was given to individuals she designated to this end. Udrea was also accused of prompting other ministry personnel to overstep their powers while procuring advertising services for the Bute Gala event, which caused losses to the ministry’s budget and brought undue benefits to Rudel Obreja.

In 2018, Elena Udrea received a 6-year prison sentence for bribe-taking and abuse of office, but she fled Romania, to be found and incarcerated later on in Costa Rica. She tried to do the same this Thursday, when the final ruling was passed, but she was caught in Bulgaria. The National Anti-Corruption Directorate had requested that she be placed under court supervision precisely because of her previous attempt to dodge the law, however the court dismissed the request.



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