Thursday, December 8, 2011

AFP: Romania court delays graft verdict against ex-PM

(BUCHAREST) - Romania's supreme court said on Wednesday it was postponing its verdict in a graft case against former prime minister Adrian Nastase until next week.

Nastase's trial case is being closely followed by the European Union in order to assess the progress made by Romania to reform its justice system, with a number of corruption cases before the courts.

A spokesman for the supreme court, which handles all cases involving high-level officials, said the verdict had been postponed from Wednesday to December 15 because the judges needed more time to deliberate.

Nastase, head of the Social-Democratic government from 2000 to 2004, is accused of bribing a representative of the national anti-money laundering office in December 2000 to block an investigation into his family.

He allegedly promised to name Ioan Melinescu as head of the office in return for abandoning a probe into what was considered a suspicious 400,000 dollar inheritance for Nastase's wife.

Melinescu, who was indeed given the job immediately after Nastase became prime minister after December 2000 elections, has also been charged with the theft or destruction of documents and taking bribes.

Nastase, who was in court on Wednesday, again denied the charge against him.

He also faces two other corruption trials over allegations he syphoned off state funds totalling 1.6 million euros to his 2004 election campaign and charges he secured a special low price for the building of a luxury home in return for giving a top ministerial post to the head of a construction company.

Romania, who joined the European Union in 2007, has been repeatedly criticised by Brussels for the slow pace in dealing with high-level corruption cases.

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