The tragic, the dramatic and the thrilling all found their way in today’s newspapers. The death of 12 people in a car crash yesterday, the confession of a reputed cleric on his relationship with the Communist secret police, the boldness of a woman of Romanian descent eyeing the Israeli presidency and the threat of highway robbers are all keeping the headlines today.

Evenimentul Zilei tells the story of a car crash yesterday in which 12 people died when the van they were traveling with hit a bus near the Eastern Romanian town of Barlad. According to the newspaper, the 17 people in the van were going fishing when the tragedy struck. Their car hit a bus traveling from Chisinau, in the Moldovan Republic, to Italy.

The cause of the crash was that the van driver failed to allow priority to the bus. The cause of the high number of victims was that the van driver had modified his vehicle by taking out the chairs to make room for more passengers. Thus, when the bus hit, it completely wrecked the van - and the people inside, as Evenimentul Zilei reports.

The same paper publishes fragments of the memoirs written by a reputed Orthodox cleric, Barolomeu Anania, who reveals how he was forced to collaborate with the Communist secret police, the Securitate, after years spent in jail in the wake of the WWII, for alleged support to the pre-Communist far right leadership of the country.

The document, which Anania wants to be published five years after he dies, shows that he informed the Securitate about many of the Orthodox Church faces of the time.

But in the fragments quoted by Evenimentul Zilei he insists that he did so in prison, where he might have been drugged with “truth drugs” that erased his conscience temporarily.

Adevarul, meanwhile, focuses on the present. It quotes two ship captains who confirmed for the newspaper that travel reports that current President Traian Basescu delivered to Communist authorities when he was working as a sea captain in the eighties used to be forwarded to the Securitate.

One of the two captains said it was clear, back in the day, that anybody working at the Romanian commercial fleet, administered by Navrom, who managed to work abroad had links with the Securitate. Basescu was a Navrom representative to Anvers at the time.

Elsewhere in the newspapers, Cotidianul interviews Colette Avital, a woman of Romanian descent who runs for the Israeli presidency.

She says that a female leader for Israel would be welcome, as long has passed since the days of Golda Meir, and that her country needed change after a long period when leadership belonged exclusively to men, while “the men in Israel have been more aggressive so far”.

A Labour politician, she decided to run for presidency following scandals involving incumbent President Moshe Katzav.

Israel returns to the Romanian front pages with another story, as well. Jurnalul National quotes Israeli media reports according to which a terrorism suspect that escaped from Romania recently had offered - and failed - to provide Mossad information about Syria in exchange for his release.

The reports say that Omar Hayssam, a Romanian businessman of Syrian descent who was suspected of planning the kidnapping of three Romanian journalists in Iraq last year, tried to give Israel secret information about Syria through Jewish lawyer Mordechai Tzibin, in exchange for his release from prison. He failed - but was temporarily freed and fled Romania on his own account.

Moving along, Evenimentul Zilei reports that Bulgaria is about to leave Romania behind in terms of economic well-being. The paper quotes an Economist Intelligence Unit study according to which Bulgaria is about to fall higher than Romania among the East and Central European countries with the best GDP per capita.

Now, Romania is 12th of the 16 countries included in the study. But, EIU says, Bulgaria - which is now below - may stand higher by the end of 2006, while Kazakhstan is seen to bring Romania even lower on the list by 2010.

Gandul is more concerned with the appearance of “gangs or robbers” on the national road linking Bucharest with the northern parts of the country.

According to the newspaper, the robbers are said to be stopping cars outside a village just north of Bucharest by throwing stones in windshield, than rob the car by force or by simple theft.