Friday, July 24, 2009

Romanian president wants legislator prosecuted

BUCHAREST, Romania — President Traian Basescu urged a Romanian legislator on Thursday to surrender his parliamentary immunity so he can be prosecuted on corruption charges.

The European Commission said Wednesday that Romania is not doing enough to fix its flawed justice system. It also said the parliament shows little commitment to pursue the fight against high-level corruption.

On Thursday, Basescu told reporters that legislator Adrian Nastase, who served as Romania's prime minister from 2000 to 2004, is damaging the credibility of the country and its parliament by refusing to face a trial.There was no immediate reaction from Nastase. In the past, he has said charges against him were politically motivated.

Nastase faces charges in two separate corruption cases.In one, 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.

Parliament lifted his immunity in that case, and a trial began in February. But it was indefinitely adjourned for technical reasons.In June, Parliament refused in to lift Nastase's immunity in the second case about alleged corruption in a real estate deal.

In Romania, legislators have parliamentary immunity from being tried while serving in Parliament. It can only be lifted if a lawmaker surrenders his immunity, or Parliament votes to withdraw it.

Romania also has other politicians suspected of corruption who have managed to avoid trial.

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