Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Romania ‘Shielding Corruption Suspects’


14 July 2008
Bucharest _ Romania’s parliament is passing decisions which effectively shelter high-ranking officials from corruption charges, a draft of a key EU report reads, according to a local news agency.

The draft European Commission report on Romania’s fight against corruption was apparently obtained by local news agency NewsIn.

The report is to be officially published on July 23 and is part of the European Union’s scrutiny over Romania's efforts to overcome shortcomings in judicial reform and the fight against corruption.

"For sure Romania still has to make progress in its fight against corruption but any comment should not be made before the official report is published," Victor Ponta, a leader from the opposition Social Democrat Party said.

Experts criticised recent decisions by the Constitutional Court whereby all investigations of high-ranking politicians must be sanctioned by the Parliament.

In passing the decision, the Parliament effectively provided shelter to former Prime Minister Adrian Nastase and former Transport Minister Miron Mitrea, who are both being prosecuted for corruption.

"The recent measures serve only to raise obstacles to the fight against corruption," Robin Barnett, the British Ambassador, was quoted as saying in Romanian press.

Over the past year, several decisions by Romanian lawmakers have marked a regression in the fight against corruption. In 2007, the Romanian Parliament amended the Criminal Code to require prosecutors to give advance warning prior to any searches involving political figures.

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