Romanian ex-PM Adrian Nastase receives new prison sentence in corruption case as struggle over justice system intensifies
Adrian Nastase received a 4 year sentence for bribe taking and a 3 year suspended sentence for blackmail. The two sentences were unified, so Nastase has to serve four years in prison. His wife Dana Nastase received a 3 year suspended sentence for complicity to bribe taking. The court also ordered the seisure of 1,8 million RON from the Nastase's.
It is the second prison sentence applied to Nastase, who had been convicted in another corruption case earlier. He had left prison early last year.
The current case, which took years to come to a conclusion, saw Adrian Nastase accused that during 2002-2004, when he was serving as PM, he received undue goods amounting to about 630,000 euro at that period's exchange rate, directly or through his wife. The money equaled the value of goods imported from China and the spending related to the imports, as well as the value of works at Nastase's homes in Bucharest and the town of Cornu.
He previously received a suspended prison sentence, but the case moved on to the High Court.
On Monday night, as he was preparing to leave home for the police station, Nastase said the sentence was "horrible", "extremely unfair" and a "dirty act of revenge", as news agency Mediafax reported.
And current PM Victor Ponta - politically raised by Adrian Nastase back in the day, said in a TV interview on Monday night that it was a political sentence in a case he compared to that of Yulia Timoschenko in Ukraine.
The verdict comes as Romania braces for another European Commission report on the evolution of the judiciary and the fight against corruption in the country, which is under EU monitoring. The report comes as the governing majority of PM Victor Ponta's Social Democrats and Senate speaker Crin Antonescu's Liberals has increased pressure on the judiciary, which they claim is under the control of President Traian Basescu.
In December, the parliamentary majority made a failed attempt to push through a bill changing the rules of amnesty, which sparked domestic and international outrage.
The political majority, pressed by influential regional leaders - including current and former members of the government - who risk prison sentences in various cases of corruption or abuse in office, may see this pressure increase to change the rules of amnesty more abruptly, by using government means to intervene in the legislative process, as HotNews.ro journalist Dan Tapalaga noted in an analysis on the Romanian-language version of HotNews.ro earlier on Monday.