Romanian parliament allows arrest of senator in graft inquiry

Romanian lawmakers voted on Thursday to lift the immunity of a leftist senator and allow prosecutors to arrest him on corruption charges, after denying a similar request in a separate case against him earlier this year.


Senator Dan Sova

The European Union state is seen as one of the bloc’s most corrupt states and its judiciary is under special monitoring, though its prosecutors and magistrates have won praise from Brussels for a crackdown on high-level graft.

In November, anti-corruption prosecutors said they were investigating Senator Dan Sova on suspicion he used his influence to convince a state-owned energy company to hire a law firm, for which he allegedly received 100,000 euros ($106,870). Sova has denied wrongdoing. Under Romanian law, prosecutors need parliament’s approval to investigate and detain sitting lawmakers for graft offences committed while they were in office. Lawmakers have a patchy record of approving such requests. Prosecutors must now go to court and secure a warrant for Sova’s arrest, a process expected to be completed soon.

Earlier this year, senators twice rejected a request to arrest Sova pending an investigation for complicity in abuse of power involving contracts signed by two state energy firms, sparking criticism from Western diplomats. Parliament authorised prosecutors to arrest Sova under a measure allowing them to use court-granted temporary arrest warrants during investigations to ensure, among other things, that evidence is not destroyed. Sova remained free during the earlier investigation. He was indicted in September alongside then-Prime Minister Victor Ponta, Romania’s first sitting head of government to face trial.

Ponta, who is charged with forgery, money-laundering and being an accessory to tax evasion, resigned on Nov. 4 after a deadly nightclub fire set off massive street protests. He has denied the charges against him.

03 December 2015