The leader of the Social Democrat senators in the Romanian parliament, Serban Nicolae, has added some amendments to the draft bill on pardons, according to which convicts sentenced for corruption could be pardoned.
Corruption has been a hot topic in Romania in the past two months and the government’s plan to amend criminal legislation so that abuse of office is partly decriminalised was slammed by the population. Mass protests have put pressure on the government, which decided to repeal the initial government decree, but Nicolae’s move indicates the ruling Social Democratic Party (PSD) is still trying to help corrupt officials avoid punishment.
According to the draft legislation on pardons, prison sentences shorter than five years will be fully pardoned, while people over 60, pregnant women and people looking after children under five years old would have their sentences halved. The pardon would not apply to recidivists or people convicted of murder, serious bodily harm, deprivation of freedom, blackmailing, rape, sexual aggression, robbery, giving and taking bribes, influence peddling and disclosure of state secrets or other serious crimes.
Serban, the leader of the legal committee in the Senate, has proposed that the articles referring to corruption crimes, including abuse of office, bribe giving and taking and influence peddling, should be eliminated from the lists of sentences to which the legislation does not apply, according to a document quoted by Hotnews.ro.
The amendments are likely to outrage many Romanians. On March 5 thousands of people took part in a march in Bucharest to show their support for the National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA).
Serban said that 2,700 convicts would benefit from the amended version of the bill, Agerpres news agency reported.
“I don’t think those who are corrupt should stay three in a bed, in damp and poor hygiene,” he said.
The interim leader of the opposition National Liberal Party (PNL), Raluca Turcan, said her party will vote against the pardon draft bill, saying that it does not solve either the problem of overcrowded prisons or improper conditions in prison. Turcan said the PSD wants the bill to also apply to people who have not yet been convicted.
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