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What the newspapers say: April 16, 2010

de C.B.     HotNews.ro
Vineri, 16 aprilie 2010, 8:47 English | Press Review

Romania's National Integrity Agency (ANI) was "sentenced" to technical redundancy by the Constitutional Court. Elsewhere in the news, still on ANI, Romanian Constitutional Court delivers a blow to the anti-corruption fight. Last but not least, Sweden wants to cut Romania a deal: 24 JAS 39 Gripen aircrafts without armament for 1.3 billion dollars, plus 100% offset.

Romania's National Integrity Agency (ANI) was "sentenced" to technical redundancy by the Constitutional Court, the Romanian press informs. This happened as seven out of nine Romanian Constitutional Court (CCR) judges were being investigated for the last three weeks, ANI sources told Gandul. The investigated magistrates are Augustin Zegrean, Tudorel Toader, Petre Lăzăroiu, Ion Predescu, Aspazia Cojocaru, Acsinte Gaşpar and Puskas Valentin-Zoltan. Ioan Vida and Nicolae Cochinescu are off the hook.

Some stipulations in the ANI Law were declared non-constitutional. Romanian Justice minister Catalin Predoiu said: "We are waiting for the CCR’s motivation, and we will react institutionally, by elaborating a normative act project". He reassured ANI the Government was backing the institution. "It is very important to understand that ANI's good practice is essential to fulfil the conditions imposed by the Cooperation and Check mechanism (MCV)", he added.

According to Predoiu, ANI's capacity was consolidated and its 2009 progress extended, a March 2010 Commission report entails. The unconstitutionality would thus endanger the good results ANI achieved so far and might have a negative impact on the mechanism. "I want to assure European partners that the Ministry of Justice is perfectly aware of the assumed arrangements and will continue to make all efforts to fulfil them", Predoiu declared.

The Constitutional Court cut ANI's attributions short: it can't any longer notify the prosecutor's office when it sees signs of fraud and it cannot address the court to ask for sequester of illicit wealth. ANI is not allowed anymore to investigate wealth and interest declarations, their submission before deadlines, their accuracy or law-abiding nature and incompatibilities. It can't notify the penal investigation authorities anymore, or enforce sanctions.

Basically, the institution hired to investigate the wealth of statesmen and stateswomen is out, Romania Libera reads. CCR delivers a blow to the anti-corruption fight. ANI president Catalin Macovei believes CCR's decision will lead to "catastrophic" consequences for Romania's foreign affairs, including joining the Schengen space.

"We only had access to public sources, meaning the press. Most information we received was from the journalists", ANI head told Realitatea TV reporters. He said the work ANI has done so far would not be questioned.  According to Macovei, the debate on ANI law in the Parliament will be very interesting, since 100 MPs were being investigated by ANI.

The scandal started with the investigation of Dr. Serban Bradisteanu's wealth, when CCR decided to declare several ANI law articles unconstitutional. Bradisteanu's lawyer Alice Drăghici explained that CCR's decision implied that the wealth and interests declaration will no longer be public.

In the Bradisteanu trial, ANI asked for his wealth to be confiscated, with nearly four million euros unaccounted for. Serban Bradisteanu made a complaint. The Appeal Court in Bucharest decided to send the file of ANI's request to CCR, after Bradisteau's lawyer raised an exception on the ANI law. The decision is not final.

Sweden wants to cut Romania a deal: 24 JAS 39 Gripen aircrafts without armament for 1.3 billion dollars, plus an economic compensation programme, Adevarul reads. The package includes a flight simulator and training 30 Romanian pilots and 60 technicians. The American second-hand F-16 would come with ammunition for the same price, but without any economic advantage.

The offset programme would mean new jobs and contracts for the Romanian aeronautic industry, involving three Romanian companies: Aerostar Bacau, Avioane Craiova and Romaero Bucuresti. The first six planes would be delivered within a year from the day the contract was signed and after that, an aircraft a month. Romania would not have to modify its runways and hangars. Training a pilot already used to fly a MiG 21 LanceR would take three months.

Faced with Sweden's offer, the Romanian Defence Ministry refused to make any comments. The offer was presented yesterday by the Swedish ambassador to Bucharest Mats Aberg and Swedish Government Defence Products Management chief Jerry Lindbergh. If Romania decided to seal the contract with Sweden, the North-European state would delay the payment for two years and then have Romania pay a yearly instalment for 15 years.

Sweden's improved offer competes against Romania's preference for the used 24 American F-16 Block 25 aircrafts and it will be submitted to Romania's two parliamentary Defence Commissions. The Swedish Gripen aircrafts are new and inter-operable with the NATO aircrafts. 


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