Romanian PM stands by adviser sentenced for corruption
Updated 9:34 am, Monday, February 12, 2018
BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — Romania's premier said Monday she won't fire a key adviser who was handed an eight-year prison sentence for corruption and money-laundering amid ongoing tensions between the leftist government and the country's anti-graft prosecutors.
Prime Minister Viorica Dancila said she has "never abandoned a member of my team who was going through a rough patch," and said her position will not change as long as the court ruling is not final.
A court sentenced Darius Valcov, a former finance minister, on Feb. 8. He denies wrongdoing and can appeal. Valcov is one of the architects of the ruling Social Democrats' governing program.
Prosecutors say that between 2008 and 2012, when he was mayor of the southern city of Slatina, Valcov demanded a 20 percent cut of any contract the city awarded a local businessman. They say he received more than 6 million lei ($1.6 million).
Separately, Dancila on Monday asked Justice Minister Tudorel Toader to "urgently" return from a visit to Japan after a former lawmaker, Vlad Cosma, who is on trial for influence peddling, accused four anti-corruption prosecutors of wanting him to falsify probes and official misconduct.
One of the prosecutors named, Lucian Onea, called the accusations "blackmail" and said prosecutors would not "give into pressure."
Referring to recordings broadcast Sunday on television stations critical of the anti-corruption prosecutors' agency, the prime minister said: "What I saw ... is worrying for every Romanian... seeing that they are trying to fabricate evidence."
The anti-corruption prosecutors' agency said in a statement Monday that people close to Cosma had recently threatened to broadcast material that would compromise the prosecutors if the case was not resolved favorably.