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Helping hand for ex-PM Nastase: most prominent graft case in Romania blocked at Constitutional Court

Joi, 5 iulie 2007, 0:00

Adrian Nastase (Photo:

The Constitutional Court in Bucharest issued a decision on Thursday that essentially blocks the most prominent graft case involving a dignitary in Romania - that of ex-prime minister Adrian Nastase and his dealings with a property in Bucharest.

The court decision sends back the case to the main anti-corruption body in the country, the National Anti-corruption Department (DNA), meaning that the case would be delayed by at least a year.

The decision means that Nastase, who's been keeping a low profile and stepped aside from PSD leadership as the case went to court, may return to limelight and have a say at the helm of the party once again.

Adrian Nastase, who led the Social-Democratic (PSD) government of Romania in 2000-2004, had been charged with graft, blackmail and traffic of influence in the so-called Zambaccian file - named after the street in Bucharest where he allegedly used illegal meanings to maintain a very expensive property.

His wife Dana Nastase was also involved in the case and accused of complicity to bribe taking.

The Constitutional Court today approved of a claim of non-constitutionality over the case raised by Nastases’ lawyer. The claimed related to an article of a law on ministers’ responsibility, which should have been used by the DNA as it investigated deeds occurred when Nastase served as a prime minister.

Nastases’ lawyers also claim that the law applies not only to incumbent ministers but also to former ones.

The court decision means that the DNA may have to conduct the inquiry procedures all over again, which may well take more than a year. The same non-constitutionality claim has been raised in another case related to a minister in the Nastase Government - ex-secretary general of the Government, Serban Mihailescu, accused of taking 11 hunting weapons as a bribe.

According to judicial sources, the Court decision today may have two effects: the inquiry in the Zambaccian case starts all over again or would be applied from now on only.

DNA representatives refused to comment on the decision and said they would wait for an explanation for it before taking a stand.

The suspension of court cases by non-constitutional claims is generally seen as a method of delaying such cases and was noted as such in the latest European Commission report on Romania in late June.

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