The Romanian Constitutional Court ruled on July 5 that the bill that allows mayors and other elected public servants to retain their positions after being issued suspended sentences for corruption is not constitutional.
The bill, already endorsed by lawmakers, was challenged through the Constitutional Court by President Klaus Iohannis. The president had previously returned the bill to MPs on January 15. Iohannis has claimed that the bill breaches constitutional provisions, international treaties signed by Romania and the essence of the fight against corruption.
The Constitutional Court made the decision unanimously, according to its statement.
“A sentence determines loss of integrity, a fundamental element of the elective mandate without which the person holding a public post has no legitimacy to continue his/her activity. The way in which the sentence is executed is nothing but a means of individualization of the punishment,” the court said in a statement.
It added that such a bill would have created privileges and inequities.
The amendments challenged by Iohannis are part of a broader set of debatable legislative initiatives from lawmakers, including a bill on special pensions for mayors and local elected public servants and the decriminalisation of conflict of interest in the case of MPs who hired their relatives to their parliamentary offices prior to August 2013. The Constitutional Court was expected to rule on whether the latter is constitutional on July 6, but a decision has been postponed to September 13, according to Mediafax news agency.
Several mayors have stood in recent elections despite being under investigation or even convicted of corruption. Results from the recent local elections showed that the suspicion of corruption hanging over some candidates had no impact on voters. In Bucharest, for example, Robert Negoita, who was under investigation for tax evasion, won another mandate as mayor of Bucharest district 3, while Gabriel Mutu, under investigation for forgery, was elected the mayor of Bucharest district 6.
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