Tuesday

28th Feb 2017

Romanian judge claims European immunity in jewels-for-verdicts case

  • A businessman admitted giving jewels to the judge, but 'out of friendship' (Photo: EUobserver)

Romania's judge at the European Court of Human Rights on Friday (14 October) claimed diplomatic immunity for his wife, a judge under investigation for allegedly receiving jewellery, holiday tickets and expensive restaurant meals for favourable verdicts in the country's highest appeals court.

ECHR judge Corneliu Barsan said prosecutors who searched his home and confiscated his wife's computer and documents violated the Vienna Convention, which covers both him and his spouse, Gabriela.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

But legal advice from the country's top magistrate council said the search was legal as immunity is not granted to judges for their own benefit or to hamper the course of justice. A final vote on the legality of the move will be taken by the magistrates' council on Tuesday.

The vote is set to be closely watched by the European Commission, which has repeatedly criticised the council for being too lenient with misbehaving judges. Romania, as well as Bulgaria, are still being monitored by the EU executive on how they deal with corruption and organised crime. This is also the reason why entry into the border-free Schengen area was delayed indefinitely by the Netherlands and Finland last month.

Gabriela Barsan, who heads the administrative and fiscal litigation department in Romania's top appeals court, is accused - together with a subordinate - of having received jewellery, plane tickets and expensive restaurant dinners in exchange for favourable verdicts. The businessman who allegedly paid the bribes, Gabriel Chiriac, has claimed that he gave them jewellery "out of friendship", Romania Libera newspaper reported.

Chiriac was involved in real estate deals of over €600 million in the past few years, including the privatisation of electricity and textile industries. The transactions, involving US hedge funds and Cyprus off-shore companies, are under investigation by the country's anti-money laundry unit.

In a separate case, the head of the national employment agency, Silviu Bian, was arrested over the weekend for having received over €50,000 in bribes. According to prosecutors, he ordered that 25 percent of money from EU-funded projects be channelled to his own accounts.

Corruption in Bulgaria and Romania still unpunished, EU says

Corruption in Bulgaria and Romania continues to not be properly pursued by the judiciary, with cases taking too long and judges themselves prone to taking bribes, the EU commission said Wednesday. The reports may lead to a further delay in a decision on admitting the two countries to the border-free Schengen area.

EU to monitor anti-corruption measures in member states

A special report on what EU member states are doing to fight corruption and how cases are actually solved is to be drafted by the European Commission every two years, home affairs commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom has announced.

Analysis

Why Romania erupted in protest

Current anger over corruption laws can be traced back to a night-club fire in 2015, when many died because of lax safety standards. Romanians then realised that corruption can kill.

French police raid Le Pen's party office

Officers raid the National Front headquarters near Paris over allegations that leader Marine Le Pen used fake EU parliament contracts to pay her personal staff.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership for Human RightsFreedom of Association and Expression Under Threat in Kazakhstan, Reports CIVICUS Monitor
  2. QS World MBA TourMeet with Leading International Business Schools in Brussels on March 6th
  3. EURORDISJoin Rare Disease Day and Help Advocate for More Research on Rare Diseases
  4. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceStudents Who Are Considered Fit Get Better Grades in School
  5. QS World MBA TourMeet with Leading International Business Schools in Paris on March 4th
  6. Malta EU 2017Economic Governance: Agreement Reached on Structural Reform Support Programme for Member States
  7. Socialists & DemocratsWomen Have to Work Ten Years Longer to Match Lifetime Earnings of Men
  8. Counter BalanceTrans-Adriatic Pipeline Is a Major Risk for Banks, Warns New Analysis
  9. Martens CentreEU and US Migration Policies Compared: Join the Debate on February 28th
  10. Swedish EnterprisesTechnology and Data Flows - Shaping the Society of Tomorrow
  11. UNICEFNearly 1.4 Million Children at Risk of Death as Famine Looms Across Africa and Yemen
  12. Malta EU 2017End of Roaming Fees: Council Reaches Agreement on Wholesale Caps