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What the newspapers say: March 17, 2009

de Radu Rizea     HotNews.ro
Marţi, 17 martie 2009, 7:13 English | Press Review

Corruption, high-level corruption, institutionalized corruption, corruption deeds remaining unpunished - that's almost all the news on Tuesday. The first signs of a rough presidential campaign this year pass almost unnoticed, in front of the hidden flaws of the new Penal Code and Criminal Procedure Code.

Romanian president Basescu will have to face the Social Democrat leader, Mircea Geoana, in the race for presidency at the end of the year, Evenimentul Zilei guarantees, even though a formal decision wasn't adopted within the party. From the Liberals, whoever wing the internal race for the party presidency - former PM Calin Popescu Tariceanu or his challenger, Crin Antonescu - will also run in the presidential elections this year, same Evenimentul Zilei reads.

But the issue of the day is corruption. Daniel Morar, head of the Anti-Graft Prosecution Office (DNA), says that the new laws not only impose less severe punishments against corruption (stealing 100 or 100 million Euros means the same 1 to 5 years in jail sentence), but it also may help many of the crooks sent to court get away without any punishment at all, Evenimentul Zilei reads. In some cases, the maximum sentence decreased three times.

Cotidianul comments the same problem, indicating that "the corrupt man of the year" was in 2008 a small time thief, convicted to nine years in jail for attempted influence trafficking. The convict (he was in jail already at the time) promised an Italian citizen to influence Romanian judges, in exchange for 40,000 Euros.

Following the same subject, Gandul notes that people investigated for corruption deeds may gain their freedom because shorter sentence terms also means shorter prescription terms. Given the enormous amount of time required to put up a flawless corruption file, many would be already forgiven before even going to court. The newspaper also quotes a Transparency International report, criticizing the lack of transparency into putting up and promoting the drafts of the four main criminal laws. The NGO claims that the new law will  make some of the most important corruption files be closed before being solved.


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