Home > News > World
Friday June 20, 2014 MYT 4:15:02 AM
Friday June 20, 2014 MYT 4:16:17 AM
BUCHAREST (Reuters) - Romanian prosecutors said they detained President Traian Basescu’s brother on Thursday for allegedly taking a bribe to help keep an underworld boss out of jail, prompting the prime minister to call for the president’s resignation.
Mircea Basescu was brought in for questioning after Florin Anghel, the son of crime boss Sandu Anghel, filed a criminal complaint against him. Anghel’s father was sentenced to eight years and nine months in prison for almost fatally stabbing one of his nephews in a bar in 2011.
Florin Anghel released secret recordings to Romanian TV station Antena 3 on Wednesday that suggested Mircea Basescu had received cash from him for trying to sway magistrates to give Sandu Anghel a lighter sentence. They also suggested President Basescu had knowledge of his brother’s dealings.
Anghel himself is under investigation for blackmail, prosecutors said. Mircea Basescu has denied taking money to influence the judiciary.
"During Feb. 20, 2011 and Feb. 22, 2012, the accused Mircea Basescu received 250,000 euros from the informant (Florin Anghel) through an intermediary in exchange for the promise that he would intervene with magistrates in the case against the informant’s father ... with the purpose of obtaining either a smaller sentence or release from jail,” prosecutors said in a statement.
The intermediary, whom prosecutors did not identify, kept an additional 350,000 euros for himself, they said, adding they would ask a court on Friday to approve a warrant to hold Basescu for 30 days pending trial.
The leftist government of Prime Minister Victor Ponta told reporters President Basescu, who won his first term in 2004 on an anti-corruption ticket and has been a strong supporter of an independent judiciary, should step down.
"The president’s resignation would be a natural gesture to eliminate any pressure on the judiciary,” it said in a statement.
Earlier on Thursday, President Basescu strongly denied any involvement.
"There is suspicion that I was involved in the case,” he told reporters. "This is why I am asking any policeman, prosecutor or judge who was involved in the sentencing of Sandu Anghel to say whether there was any intervention on my part.
"Being the president’s brother does not exempt you from being subject to the law. Let me assure you that between the need to consolidate the judiciary and the natural impulse to defend one’s brother I choose consolidating the judiciary."
Romania ranks behind only Greece and Bulgaria in terms of corruption in the 28-nation EU, according to Transparency International, and the European Commission has put its justice system under special monitoring.
More than 1,000 people were convicted of corruption last year in the country. Those sent for trial included six ministers and parliamentarians, five county council heads, 34 mayors and deputy mayors, judges, lawyers and managers of state-owned firms.
(Reporting by Luiza Ilie; editing by Andrew Roche)
Romanian court orders 30-day detention for president's brother
Romanian president reassures investors as government splits
Afghan President Karzai's brothers to offer him role if elected
Fidel Castro hails brother for Obama handshake
Dozens of Turkish police detained for alleged spying on government
Swedish appeal court upholds Assange detention order
Iran nuclear talks stuck, deadline may be extended - officials
French finance minister says prospect of EU fines 'not an issue'
Russia warns U.S. against arms to Ukraine as Biden due in Kiev
EU duty approval to come just in time for Kenya's Valentine roses - official
Iran's Supreme Leader frees pioneering Iranian 'Blogfather' - media
Russia says North Korea ready for renewal of nuclear talks
FIFA ethics chiefs agree next step for 2018/2022 report
Facebook launches tech news page
Copyright © 1995-2014 Star Publications (M) Bhd (Co No 10894-D)