Thursday, March 5, 2009

Ex Romanian minister to go on trial for corruption

Thursday, March 5, 2009

BUCHAREST, Romania: Romanian anti-corruption prosecutors said Thursday that former Transportation Minister Miron Mitrea will go on trial on corruption charges dating from his time in office.

Prosecutors said in a statement that Mitrea took bribes worth about 920,000 lei ($270,500) between 2000 and 2004, when he was minister.

They allege that in exchange for the kickbacks Mitrea appointed Irina Jianu as chief inspector of Romania's inspectorate for building work.

Prosecutors said a house belonging to Mitrea's mother was built for free by companies connected with Jianu. Jianu and an architect will also face charges in the same trial. No date has been set.

Romania is under pressure from the European Union to reduce high-level corruption. It joined the EU in 2007.

The announcement regarding Mitrea's trial came a day after Romania's Parliament voted to lift the immunity of former Prime Minister Adrian Nastase so his corruption trial can continue. That trial began Feb. 26, but was immediately adjourned until March 24.

Prosecutors allege that companies and state agencies were forced to pay fees to attend a conference, and the money was then used to pay for Nastase's unsuccessful run for the presidency in 2004. Nastase was prime minister from 2000 to 2004.

Both Nastase and Mitrea have said their trials were politically motivated.

Prosecutors began collecting evidence against Nastase and Mitrea several years ago. But the files could not be referred to courts until the Parliament and President Traian Basescu approved, because Nastase and Mitrea were lawmakers.

Mitrea resigned from Parliament in September saying he wanted to clear his name in a trial. He was re-elected in November.

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