Politeía Digest

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

Daily News – April, 9th

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Top magistrate, businessmen detained in Voicu case

Anticorruption prosecutors yesterday issued 24-hour detention orders in the name of High Court judge Florin Costiniu and businessmen Marius Locic and Costel Casuneanu, who are under investigation in a high-level corruption case together with Senator Catalin Voicu and several other politicians, businessmen and magistrates.

The three were summoned for hearings at the National Anticorruption Department (DNA) yesterday, and their detention came after being interrogated for several hours. Investigators were expected to take the three suspects in front of a High Court panel, in order to have them placed on month-long remand. The three are facing charges of complicity to influence peddling and other corruption-related deeds. Senator Voicu is already on 30-day remand for influence peddling and taking bribes. He is accused of having used his influence on police and magistrates, Costiniu included, to rule in favour of Casuneanu and Locic and of several politicians. Investigators claim that the senator received significant amounts of money from both Locic and Casuneanu, to intervene with magistrates and police in order to solve various legal problems they were facing. Both Voicu and the three people detained yesterday deny any wrongdoing and insist they are innocent.

Costiniu, head of the High Court’s civil department, was heard by prosecutors a day after the country’s top magistracy body, in an unprecedented move, accepted investigators’ request to have the judge detained. Costiniu refused to make any comments on the Superior Council of Magistracy’s (CSM) decision to approve his arrest.  He only said he feels “absolutely innocent” and will focus on preparing his defence. Costiniu also voiced confidence in authorities and said what happens to him at the moment is “unfair.” Before going into DNA hearings yesterday, Costiniu once again refused to make any statements to the press. When asked whether he was afraid he might be detained by prosecutors, Costiniu said he would obey legal authorities’ decision.

Locic too refused to make statements before going into the DNA headquarters, while Casuneanu only said he was not worried that he might be detained by anticorruption prosecutors, as he has nothing to fear since he did nothing wrong. Casuneanu is a wealthy businessman who was repeatedly accused by the media of having benefited from preferential treatment from the authorities in the allocation of public work contracts. He is reportedly friends with President Traian Basescu.

CSM’s ruling on Costiniu was praised as a normal gesture in a democratic society by National Judges’ Union leader Dana Garbovan. She told Realitatea.net that the CSM approval does not necessarily mean that the judge will be arrested. “It’s similar to a Parliament decision to strip a lawmaker of immunity. It’s a procedural matter (…). CSM gave its approval for procedures and investigations to follow their course. Now a court will have to decide if the arrest is necessary or not,” Garbovan said. She also voiced doubt that CSM’s request had anything to do a recent petition signed by hundreds of magistrates, demanding more transparent promotion decisions from the council. More specifically, magistrates said several judges, including Costiniu, had been promoted to high-ranking positions based on various interests, not on competence. Magistrates also demanded that Costiniu and a fellow High Court judge also involved in Voicu’s corruption case, Cristian Jipa, be suspended from office pending inquiries.

The issue also stirred heated debates in CSM’s session yesterday, as council leadership accused protesting magistrates of improper behaviour and electioneering in view of upcoming council elections.  Source: Nine o’Clock

Obama and Medvedev sign disarmament treaty

PRAGUE – The United States and Russia signed a landmark disarmament treaty on Thursday they hope will herald better bilateral ties and raise pressure on countries seeking nuclear weapons to renounce such ambitions. Presidents Barack Obama and Dmitry Medvedev signed the pact at a ceremony in the mediaeval Prague Castle after talks that covered nuclear security, Iran’s atomic programme and an uprising in the strategic Central Asian state of Kyrgyzstan. The agreement will cut strategic nuclear arsenals deployed by the former Cold War foes by 30 percent within seven years but leave each with enough to destroy the other. Both major nuclear powers needed to show they were serious about reducing their vast stockpiles to lend weight to efforts to curb the atomic ambitions of countries such as Iran and North Korea, and avoid accusations of hypocrisy. White House officials told reporters on Obama’s flight to Prague that tougher U.N. sanctions against Iran’s disputed nuclear programme would be prominent in his talks with Medvedev, although no specific announcements were expected.  “The Russians are already committed to holding Iran accountable through the multilateral sanctions regime,” deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes said.

Obama this week announced a shift in U.S. nuclear doctrine, pledging never to use atomic weapons against non-nuclear states, as he sought to build momentum for an April 12-13 nuclear security summit in Washington. The U.S. president set out his long-term goal to work towards a world without nuclear weapons in a speech at the same Prague Castle a year ago. Medvedev said on arrival on Wednesday that the treaty could play a considerable role in shaping disarmament in the future. White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said Obama hoped and expected the U.S. Senate would ratify the treaty this year, before mid-term elections may change the composition of the upper house of Congress, controlled by the Democrats. Source: Reuters

More unemployed from month to month

Some 3,000 more people without a job in March, compared to February. Unemployment rate rose 8.36 per cent in March, against 8.3 per cent in the previous month, Mediafax reports. The National Employment Agency (ANOFM) reports there are roughly 3,000 more unemployed last month, from 762,375 in February, to 765,285 in March. The counties with the highest jobless rate are: Giurgiu (8.39 per cent), Bacau (8.58 per cent), Suceava and Valcea (8.73 per cent), Braila (8.95 per cent), Bistrita (9.03 per cent), Brasov (9.07 per cent), Tulcea (9.10 per cent), Dambovita (9.27 per cent), Olt (9.41 per cent) and Prahova (9.52 per cent). The unemployment rate stood below the national average in Bucharest (2.53 per cent) and the counties of Ilfov (2.85 per cent), Timis (4.50 per cent), Bihor (6.45 per cent), Maramures (6.85 per cent), Cluj (6.87 per cent), Arad (6.94 per cent), Satu-Mare (7.02 per cent), Constanta (7.72 per cent), Vrancea (7.77 per cent), Botosani (8.11 per cent), Iasi (8.18 per cent) and Sibiu (8.33 per cent).

Domestic and foreign new industrial orders dropped 5 per cent in February, compared to January, yet, they were up 11 per cent from those in February of 2009, The National Institute of Statistics (INS) announced Thursday. The 5 per cent decline was due to negative developments in the intermediate goods industry (-29.2 per cent). Rises in new orders were reported in the durable goods sector (25.9 per cent), capital goods (15.8 per cent) and staple goods (7.2 per cent), the INS release shows. Compared to February 2009, new orders were up 11 per cent, on the back of increases in capital goods (17.5), intermediate goods (7.8 per cent) and durable goods (4.7 per cent). Staple goods industry saw a decline of 2 per cent. The January-February indicator was up 13.7 per cent, when compared to the year-earlier level, on the strength of growth registered by the intermediate goods sector (23.4 per cent), capital goods (12.5 per cent) and durable goods (0.2 per cent). The staple goods sector fell 4.4 per cent. Gross industrial production was up 4.3 per cent in February, against January, and down 2.5 per cent when adjusted for number of working days and season. When compared to February of last year, it was down 0.4 per cent gross production wise, and up 1.4 per cent when adjusted. The 4.3 per cent growth was made possible by a 7 per cent rise in manufacturing output. Generation and supply of electrical power, heat, gas, hot water, conditioned air, and the mining sector, fell In February, compared to the earlier month, by 7.7 per cent and 1.6 per cent respectively.

Further more, the domestic and foreign industrial business turnover were up 6 per cent in February, against January, and 3.3 per cent from a year ago, on the strength of improved manufacturing production, which was up 7.1 per cent in February, compared to January. The mining sector saw a decline of 11.1 per cent over the same interval. Industrial business was up 3.3 per cent overall, given increases posted by manufacturing sector (3.8 per cent). Mining sector was down 4.8 per cent.

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