The Romanian Court of Appeals decided on Thursday to put controversial Romanian businessman Sorin Ovidiu Vantu free. Vantu had been retained last week under charges related to helping a sentenced fugitive. The court decided on Thursday that two other people investigated in the same case be freed.

Sorin Ovidiu VantuFoto:

Sorin Ovidiu Vantu and another man currently under inquiry - Ovidiu Turcan - have a ban on leaving the country. Magistrates voted 2-1 in favor of SO Vantu, Ovidiu Turcan and Alexandru Stoian (the third indicted person) being freed.

Vantu - a prominent businessman with major political and intelligence connections, who was involved in major financial scandals a decade ago and who owns media group Realitatea - was retained for 24 hours last Thursday. The same day, magistrates decided to put him under 29-day arrest at prosecutors' request. On Wednesday, Vantu showed up to defend his case in his appeal to the 29 day-arrest and accused Romanian President Traian Basescu of hunting him down.

He and the other two are accused of favoring fugitive Nicolae Popa, a former manager of Gelsor group who was sentenced to 15 years for the collapse of the National Investments Fund (FNI) scheme a decade ago).