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Shockwaves in Romania as former judge gets his conviction overturned

Shockwaves in Romania as former judge gets his conviction overturned

In a turnaround that has caused quite a stir in Romania, a former judge Toni Grebla was acquitted by the High Court of Cassation on 11 May 2018, writes James Wilson

Mr Grebla has gone public about his ordeal and has spoken about what he believes was the motivation behind his wrongful imprisonment.He described to Romania's Antena 3 television station how he had "lived a nightmare for three years" and that the case against him was retribution for him judging cases on their merit, rather than according to targets set out by the Romanian Intelligence Service (SRI) and the Anti-Corruption Directorate (DNA).Mr Grebla described the ordeal of being paraded in handcuffs and described how the case against him had negatively impacted his family.

Antena 3 television asked him if the 'Parallel State', a term used frequently in Romania to describe a structure (in this case the SRI and DNA) allegedly trying to take illegal control using public resources, was to blame for the tribulation he has endured.He responded by saying: "Yes, some people have operated outside the law.One of these people is Florian Coldea (the former Deputy Director of the SRI). I don't think that he did not know."He also said that the moves against him had been backed by Laura Codruta Kovesi, the DNA's chief Prosecutor.

The accusations against Mr Grebla were that he was accused of having asked and received goods and services from businessman Ion Bircina to help him to obtain contracts in the fields of energy and transport scrap iron, a charge from which he was acquitted.

Revelations have continued throughout the week in Romania, with perhaps the most shocking coming from investigative journalist Sorina Matei, describing being how the brother of the prosecutor overseeing Mr Grebla's case was arrested on the night of 5-6 February 2015 in order to put pressure on him to ensure that he followed the SRI and DNA line by pursuing the case against Mr Grebla.While the prosecutor was working on Mr Grebla's case, his brother was brought into DNA headquarters and held in an adjacent room, in a tactic designed to put pressure on the prosecutor.The tactic succeeded, with the prosecutor apparently crying and begging on bended knee that his brother be released.

Just four days after the detention of his brother, the prosecutor, helped by a colleague, ordered the detention of Toni Grebla and sent the case to court, with the proposal that Mr Grebla be arrested at home.From then on, the two men's cases ran in parallel.

This case has caused a tremor in Romania, coming as it does on top of a scandal regarding the Romanian Intelligence Service (SRI) signing protocols with important institutions in the local justice system, including the Superior Magistracy Council (CSM), the High Court of Cassation and Justice (ICCJ) and Judicial inspection.

The Author, James Wilson, is the Founding Director of the International Foundation for Better Governance

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