Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Romanian ex-media magnate sent to trial for threats

(AFP)

BUCHAREST — The former owner of one of the main TV stations in Romania, Sorin Ovidiu Vantu, will face trial for demanding money with menaces from the station manager, prosecutors said on Monday.

Vantu, who owned until late April the Realitatea Media group, and one of his aides are accused of forcing Sebastian Ghita, manager of the TV Realitatea news channel, to give them 150,000 euros by using threats, Supreme Court prosecutors said in a statement.

Between March and April, the two suspects used "death threats against the victim and his family," the statement said.

"I buried people like you in the hills of Moldova," Vantu allegedly told Ghita, according to a recorded conversation between the two men published by Hotnews, one of the main news websites in Romania.

Ghita gave the recordings to Hotnews.

Vantu had chosen Ghita in October 2010 to become manager of TV Realitatea in exchange for a promised 75-million-euro investment in the next five years.

But the relationship between two men quickly soured over their opposing views on strategies for the media outlet.

Vantu, who is being tried in another case involving aiding a fugitive, denied all accusations and insisted the "case had been fabricated in the presidential laboratories".

Late April, Vantu sold his shares in his media empire to a Romanian-Israeli businessman, a few hours before being arrested in this case.

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