Head of Ilfov Police resigns in the nursing homes scandal

Notifications regarding the problems in one of nursing homes sent to the Voluntari town hall as early as 2021. Labour minister defies journalists. President Iohannis about the scandal: A national disgrace.

Latest news: The head of IPJ Ilfov resigned on Tuesday evening, official sources told Digi24.ro. He and his deputies were under investigation after the “asylums of horror” scandal. After his departure from office, his two deputies are to be changed, as well as the leadership of the Voluntari police.

The quoted sources specified that the resignation of the chief commissioner Cristian Perșinaru came as a result of the investigation started by the Control Body of the IGPR at the Ilfov Police Inspectorate, after the scandal of the “asylums of horror” in Voluntari. The investigation also targets the Volunteer Police, with the result that, most likely, the management there will also resign.

On Monday, following the revelations regarding the inhumane conditions in the asylums in Ilfov, the Minister of the Interior Cătălin Predoiu ordered the dispatch of specialists from the Control Corps of the General Inspectorate of the Romanian Police (IGPR) to the County Police Inspectorate (IPJ) Ilfov, as well as to the Police of Volunteers and Smokers.

Notifications sent to all relevant authorities more than 1 year and a half ago

A year and a half before the DIICOT raids on the “horror asylums” where elderly admitted there were beaten and starved, almost all local and central authorities with responsibilities in the control of social centers received complaints about irregularities or even abuses at one of the centers in Voluntari.

The Center for Media Investigations and Buletin de Bucharest have made public new documents that show that they have made reports since October 2021. Voluntari Mayor Florentin Pandele claims that he did not know about this situation. He believes that the city hall officials would have hidden the truth from him, as he stated on Realitatea TV.

Neighbors of one of the horror asylums in Voluntari wrote to the City Hall in October 2021. They complained that their neighbor had brought elderly and disabled people, as well as staff, into a home without informing his neighbors that he had opened a social center, as demand the law.

In November, local residents complained of other problems – the center uses a non-compliant septic tank and illegally dumps waste into the street drain.

The notifications received a registration number from the Voluntari City Hall, a sign that the officials had the first clues about the irregularities in the asylum. They were not the only documents sent to the town hall.

However,  the mayor says after the outbreak of the scandal that he knew nothing. “It is not the fault of the Voluntari Mayor that, in a private home, where there are no control duties from the mayor’s institution, there being no duties, we had no way to enter and we did not know. If I had known, the good Lord is my witness. Can you imagine that a sane person, if he had such information, would not have taken action?,” Pandele retorted.

In 2022, in the absence of answers, the neighbors of the asylum in Voluntari start the lawsuit against the Voluntari City Hall. In the summons request, both the suspicions of abuse and the connection of the former advisor to the Minister of the Family, Gabriela Firea, the wife of the mayor of Voluntari, with the whole affair are invoked. The response of the town hall, drawn up by the Legal Department, is signed, among others, by the mayor Florentin Pandele.

According to a document issued by the Ilfov Public Health Directorate (DSP), the Voluntari City Hall received the request to register the home in November 2021. Other complaints and suspicion of abuse – screams are heard from the building, the police and rescue come often, and the staff is insufficient. The head of the DSP Ilfov has resigned.

On the other hand, the Health Ministry, which has authority over the public health inspectorates, also says it is not its fault, with the minister admitting that the checks are “just for show”.

“We end up finding that when we do an inspection, everyone does their part, that is, each institution does its part. Many times we were checking papers, instead of checking record”, said Alexandru Rafila, Minister of Health.

Notifications were also sent in the same period, in the fall of 2021, to the Agency for the Protection of Persons with Disabilities, subordinate to the Ministry of Labour. After the data from the file appeared, the management of the institution was dismissed.

Moreover, it seems that  the St. Gabriel cel Viteaz Association sued its neighbors and asked them for moral damages because they complained to the authorities about the situation in one of the horror asylums in Voluntari, as revealed by Silviu Munteanu, the neighbors’ lawyer.

“Initially, I decided together with my clients (neighbors of one of the volunteer centers managed by the Sf. Gabriel cel Viteaz Association) not to publicly comment on the aspects related to the activity of that home. However, we have decided that some additional clarifications are needed compared to what journalists Ovidiu Vanghele and Bianca Albu from the Bucharest Media and Bulletin Investigation Center discovered. It must be remembered by everyone that dozens of addresses have been made to the institutions empowered to take measures in relation to the activity of this Association starting from October 2021”,  Silviu Munteanu posted on Facebook.

“Also, it should be known that at this moment there is a file at the Court of Appeal in Bucharest whose object is to compel the ANPDPD (National Authority for the Protection of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities n. ed.) to revoke the license (provisional at the time of the application) of the Association of St. Gabriel the Brave. Together with my colleague Roberta Secuianu, I made numerous requests to the Voluntari City Hall, the Voluntari Public Health Directorate, the AJPIS and the ANPDPD (the institutions that proposed and issued the authorizations of this Association), EUROPAVOL (the company that manages the sewage system in Voluntari)”, the lawyer further disclosed.

For all these institutions, it was necessary to take actions in court in order to be forced to respond to our requests or to take the necessary legal measures, the lawyer emphasized, adding that, “among all the institutions with oversight/control of the Association, ANPDPD is the only institution that has drawn up a correct report.”

Munteanu said that the report drafted in November shows, among other things, that “in the center in Voluntari there are people with cancer who are not given medication, that there are people with diabetes who are fed biscuits and tea and, perhaps most importantly, that the settlements to the DGASPC are formal”.

Despite the neighbours notifications, it was the St. Gabriel cel Viteaz Association that sued back the neiggbours.

“In March of this year, the St. Gabriel cel Viteaz Association filed a lawsuit against my clients so that the latter would be obliged to pay moral damages to the Association in the amount of 3,000 euros” says Silviu Munteanu. “From the point of view of the St. Gabriel the Brave Association, the neighbors have committed an abuse of law by making reports to the institutions empowered to take measures,” the lawyer added.

Labour minister defiant

The Minister of Labor, Marius Budăi, claims that his resignation in the scandal regarding the horror asylums in Ilfov “doesn’t matter”. After a journalist returned and asked him if he thought for a second about resigning, Marius Budăi answered briefly: “Thank you very much for the question.”

The Minister of Labor was asked by journalists, on Tuesday, how he responds to requests for resignation in the scandal regarding the unimaginable abuses in the dormitories in Voluntari and Afumați, Budai’s answer being that his resignation would not matter.“I think it doesn’t matter more or less about my resignation, it matters a lot what we will do from now on. We can ask a lot of questions: Why? Why? Why? Let’s do, let’s change things and prevent these unfortunate events.”

President Iohannis about the scandal: A national disgrace

Romanian President Klaus Iohannis also had a first reaction on the elderly abused in the nursing homes in Voluntari.

“The issue of asylums of horror is very complicated, it is a national disgrace. The measures that will be taken must cut the evil from the root. There are many culprits, but not all can be framed in the same way. (…) All those who knew and did nothing are guilty. All must be found guilty. I am a supporter of a clear and determined intervention. I don’t know who is politically guilty, I really hope that those who are in a position to make political decisions will do so,” said Iohannis.

2021disabledFlorentin Pandelemayornotificationsnursing homestown hallVoluntari
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