The case of missing businessman Omar Hayssam, who’s been on the run since release on parole despite terrorism charges, continues to feed the political turmoil in Bucharest - and the media keeps up with the pace with today’s reports.
Problems at Romanian refinery RAFO and at the Rosia Montana gold mining project, the wave of European investors in the local economy and the exodus of bogus brands spice up the newspaper front pages.
Under the headline “Hayssam is dead”, Adevarul makes a voice heard that was largely ignored in the Hayssam saga so far - that of the fugitive’s wife, Adela Omar, who told exclusively for this newspaper that the story of the businessman fleeing the country to dodge terrorism charges was improbable.
Omar Hayssam is thought to have fled Romania several weeks ago despite being charged with terrorism in the case of the kidnapping of three Romanian journalists in Iraq last year.
“I believe my husband is no longer alive. When he left, he said he would put an end to his life and that’s what I believe it happened”, she says. And she claims no prosecutor has tried to contact her since his husband disappeared and that she has not received any sign from Hayssam’s Arab relatives in Syria.
Meanwhile, Evenimentul Zilei considers that a prosecutor who was in charge with the terrorism case on Hayssam and who was dismissed from office yesterday is the key to the series of events that led to Hayssam’s parole.
The newspaper reads between the lines of a statement by Interior minister Vasile Blaga yesterday, according to whom his ministry’s intelligence service had information in May this year that the businessman might try to leave the country.
Evenimentul Zilei understands that one of the people who had access to such information was prosecutor Ciprian Nastasiu, who has called for the parole.
Cotidianul reports that despite conflicting information about a possible involvement of Interpol in searching for Hayssam abroad, the man is not looked for abroad because the Romanian Justice is still lacking proof he left Romania.
And Gandul takes the story from a different angle - that of statements the Interior ministry made yesterday. The newspaper quotes Blaga as saying that an order was given that all people who spent time in arrest be monitored on exit from and entrance in Romania, a move that this daily considers “aberrant”.
The same newspaper quotes President Traian Basescu, who after a series of revelations involving the Romanian intelligence services and their predecessor, the communist-era secret police, demanded yesterday that a huge chunk of secret files on political people and economic issues be lifted.
Adevarul translates the move: not only the Parliament, but also the average citizen will be able to ask the intelligence services to let them see the files from now on.
Cotidianul reports that President Basescu decided yesterday not to name new heads for the intelligence services, to replace those who resigned in the Hayssam scandal last week, until the Parliament adopted a set of laws on national security.
And Evenimentul Zilei quotes a spokesperson for the main Romanian Intelligence Service-SRI, who admitted yesterday that undercover SRI officers have been working as journalists. The newspaper finds the situation problematic as the statement comes amid controversies that many senior journalists collaborated with the communist secret police.
Elsewhere in today’s newspapers, Evenimentul Zilei reports that European firms have become present in the every aspect of Romanians’ lives. The newspaper lists the most important European companies present in Romania, by industry.
But Cotidianul opts to focus on a new EU report showing that over a hundred million fakes of various brands invade Europe yearly. In the report, Romania along with Bulgaria and Azerbaijan appear as oddities, as the market for bogus brands is going down at least in Romania.
And there’s the case of Italian shoes, many of which, labeled “Made in Italy”, are in fact made by Italians in Romanian factories.
The same newspaper reports on another sensitive issue - that of the RAFO refinery in Eastern Romania, which may go bankrupt by the end of the year unless it pays its debts to the state and other creditors. RAFO has been at the core of a huge corruption, money laundering and organized crime network that spread to members of the former Social-Democratic government.
And Gandul writes about the start of the first public debate on the Rosia Montana gold mining project, that put the initiators of the project, the Rosia Montana Gold Corporation, face to face with Greenpeace and the Romanian ecology movement Alburnus Maior for the first time in two years. The public debates will continue until August 28, the newspaper reports.