Romanian top court rejects vote procedure which shielded a senator from arrest

Romanian top court rejects vote procedure which shielded a senator from arrest

Bucharest, May 6, 2015/ Independent Balkan News Agency

By Daniel Stroe

Romania’s Constitutional Court has today ruled that a Senate’s decision on the outcome of the vote cast on the request of the anti-corruption authority seeking approval for Senator Dan Sova’s (photo) remand and pre-trial arrest is unconstitutional, bringing a case which sparked public outrage back into the spotlight.

“Following deliberations, the Constitutional Court ruled by a majority vote that the Senate Decision No. 32 of March 25, acknowledging that the requirements of (…) the Senate Statutes had not been met, thus preventing the approval of the remand and pre-trial arrest of Senator Dan Sova, is unconstitutional, because it was adopted on the basis of law and regulatory provisions that were running counter to (…) the Constitution,” show the minutes of the CCR sitting.

It is not yet clear whether the vote in the Senate will be resumed. The decision is final and generally binding and shall be notified to the Senate. Romania’s Constitutional Court today discussed the challenge filed by the National Liberal Party (PNL) to the Senate’s decision regarding the outcome of the vote cast following the request of the National Anti-corruption Directorate (DNA) for the approval of Dan Sova’s remand and pre-trial arrest.

On April 23, leader of the PNL Senate group Tudor Barbu announced that the Liberals were filing a challenge to the decision passed in the Sova case with Constitutional Court.

“There are numerous legal grounds, elements related to Constitutional Court jurisprudence, there are arguments aplenty the Liberals have made available to the Court judges in support of this natural move, of challenging a decision that defies the laws and the Constitution in the first place,” Barbu said at that time.

In April, a request filed by the Romanian Anti-Corruption Department (DNA) to arrest Senator Sova, an ally of PM Victor Ponta and former minister of Transport, was approved by 79 votes, while 67 senators turned it down. Still, the speaker of the Senate announced there was no majority of votes met therefore the request was rejected. The Romanian Senate has 168 senators so the majority need for the request to be approved is 85 votes. The vote sparked protests and harsh criticism from Western embassies in Bucharest.

Sova is accused of destroying digital evidence of a legal counseling company he used to work for related to a file concerning a huge energetic complex in Romania, Turceni-Rovinari. Prosecutors say Dan Sova’s legal house and his accomplices deprived the state energetic complex of 71 million lei (about 16 million Euros) in just half a year. Sova was hired as lawyer but lost many trials the energetic complex was involved in. In return, Sova’s legal company earned a little less than 1 million Euros.