Thursday

18th Oct 2018

Sweden grants asylum to citizen from EU candidate Romania

Sweden has granted political asylum to a controversial yoga teacher from EU candidate state Romania, with the Romanian leader referring to the case as an example of shortcomings in the country's legal system less than a year before accession is scheduled.

The Swedish Migration Board at the beginning of this week granted refugee status to Mr Gregorian Bivolaru, a 53 year-old yoga-instructor on the grounds that he may face persecution due to his religious views in Romania, and that a trial against him in his home country would not be fair.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

  • Romanian accession to the EU might face delay, says prime minister Tariceanu (Photo: European Commission)

Last October, the Swedish government rejected a Romanian justice ministry's request for Mr Bivolaru's extradition on the same grounds.

Mr Bivolaru, founder of the Movement for the Spiritual Integration into the Absolute (MISA) is standing trial in Romania for, amongst other things, rape, tax fraud and anti-Semite statements.

The Swedish Supreme Court, on whose statement the Swedish government bases its dismissal of the extradition request, noted that the evidence put forward against Mr Bivolaru from Bucharest was insufficient.

Bucharest in its extradition request included statements by Romanian MPs in a parliamentary debate as "facts", without substantial proof to back the claims.

The request referred to MPs describing Mr Bivolaru as "Satan", "psychopath" and "terrorist".

The Swedish court also referred to a report from the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Bucharest, stating that witnesses had been forced to declare false testimony against Bivolaru.

The organisation's executive director, Diana Calinescu, called the case a "slap in the face" for the Romanian legal system, and told EUobserver that the Romanian judiciary must take into account that it did not manage to convince the Swedish court that Mr Bivolaru would enjoy a fair trial in Romania.

Romanian PM concerned about accession

The Romanian prime minister Calin Popescu Tariceanu on Monday (9 January) pointed to the case as an example of shortcomings in the Romanian legal system, warning that these might jeopardise Romania's bid to join the EU in January 2007.

"If the yoga teacher is granted asylum in Sweden because his fundamental rights are not respected here in Romania, than that is a clear proof of the fact that justice does not function here," he said according to press reports.

Referring to further deficiencies in the country's legal system, Mr Tariceanu said "We see a lot of strange sentences, causing doubts about the honesty of judges".

Romania and Bulgaria signed their accession treaties on 25 April 2005, but these treaties for the first time contain a clause with the option to delay the 2007 entry date until 2008 if entry preparations are insufficient.

EU enlargement commissioner Olli Rehn said Brussels would "not hesitate" to make use of the option in its recommendation on the entry date to EU member states, due in April or May 2006.

Mr Tariceanu also referred to this option, saying that "if accession fails to happen in 2007, we cannot be certain that it can happen in 2008," referring to the sceptical climate on enlargement currently characterising the EU.

MEPs concerned

A number of MEPs earlier expressed concern over the Bivolaru case, with the chairman of the European Parliament External Affairs Committee, Elmar Brok, sending a letter to Bucharest officials after the Swedish authorities first rejected the extradition request in November.

Socialist MEP Veronique de Keyser and her Danish eurosceptic colleague Jens-Peter Bonde have also pledged to keep a critical eye on the case.

EU passport sales create 'proud Maltese citizens'

Malta says its 'Golden Visas' scheme attracts families that want to become "proud Maltese citizens". Meanwhile the sales to Russian nationals, and others, have generated over €700m in revenue.

Dutch refuse Polish arrest warrant over judicial fears

A court in Amsterdam has questioned the independence of the Polish judiciary - turning down a Polish request for a European arrest warrant over fears that the suspect would not a get a fair trial in Poland.

Interview

Son of couple jailed in Egypt pleads to EU for help

A man is seeking EU support to release his parents from Egyptian prisons, where both have been detained without charge for over 450 days, the mother in solitary confinement. The pressure comes amid EU plans to increase cooperation with Cairo.

News in Brief

  1. Legal text for Brexit relocation EU agencies agreed
  2. Greek foreign minister resigns over Macedonia deal
  3. No Brexit backstop means no approval, says EU parliament
  4. Poland questions supremacy of EU court
  5. Medvedev to meet Juncker and Merkel in Brussels
  6. Italians and Czechs least favourable to remaining in EU
  7. Facebook hack set to be first major test of EU data rules
  8. Barnier open to extending Brexit transition period

Opinion

Interpol, China and the EU

China joins a long list of countries - including Russia - accused of abusing Interpol's 'Red Notice' system to harras activists and dissidents.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  3. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  5. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  6. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  7. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  8. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  9. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  11. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  12. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All

Latest News

  1. Kaczynski: No question of Polish EU exit
  2. EU summit to accept urgency of climate action – but no measures planned
  3. MEPs demand more from EU on human rights in Asia
  4. EU migration solutions are on the table - let's adopt them
  5. No progress at Brexit summit, talks continue
  6. May faces EU leaders head-to-head as Brexit deal falters
  7. Nordic region's top bank in new Russia funds complaint
  8. Why 'Spitzenkandidat' is probably here to stay

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  2. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  4. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  6. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  8. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  9. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network
  11. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future
  12. ACCAEmpowering Businesses to Engage with Sustainable Finance and the SDGs

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us