Tuesday, July 28, 2009

AP: Romanian Parliament lifts immunity of ex-minister

BUCHAREST, Romania - Romania's parliament has stripped immunity from the country's former sports and youth minister so prosecutors can investigate allegations that she overspent public money organizing concerts.

Monica Iacob Ridzi resigned earlier this month over accusations she spent an estimated euro600,000 ($839,000) on concerts for young people in May. Nobody has accused her of pocketing any money, and Ridzi said she was innocent.

Accusations center on inflated prices paid for goods and services at the concerts. Ridzi is also accused of trying to delete allegedly incriminating e-mails in the case. The lower chamber of Parliament approved the move late Monday.Ridzi said negative press coverage was politically motivated to harm her Democratic Liberal Party, which is supported by President Traian Basescu.

Romania holds presidential elections later this year and Basescu is expected to run again.Also late Monday, parliament voted to investigate allegations that Tourism Minister Elena Udrea, another Democratic Liberal minister, overspent ministry funds on advertising and public events.Udrea denied accusations, which she called political.The centrist Democratic Liberal party governs with the leftist Social Democracy Party in Romania's ruling coalition, but the two parties are often at odds.

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