Deputy Cătălin Rădulescu (aka the AKM MP) and 38 PSD MPs have filed a bill aimed at amending the criminal law which stipulates that the threshold for abuse of office should be set at EUR 200,000. In GEO 13/2017, the threshold was RON 200,000. The damage in one of the files in which PSD leader Liviu Dragnea is defendant, charged with abuse of office with damages of RON 108,000, thus he would get rid of the charges.
In terms of abuse of office, article 297, Radulescu and the other Social Democrats want to be considered as crime only if it is a “material damage exceeding EUR 200,000” (at present it is “a damage or an injury to the legitimate rights or interests of natural or legal persons”). Also, the penalty would be cut: 1 to 5 years imprisonment, against 2 to 7 years imprisonment.
The bill is also amending article 60 of the Criminal Code, which refers to the detention regime. Therefore, the initiator has added two new paragraphs. One of them says that the prison sentences up to 3 years are served at home, while the other paragraph stipulates that the home arrest also applies to the people sentenced to more than 3 years in prison if they are aged at least 60 or to those who suffer of serious or cureless diseases, set by the law.
At the same time, the bill is amending the law 135/2010 on Criminal procedure code. Thus, article 290 relating to the denunciation, would be amended.
According to the amendment, the denunciation can be filed within six months from the date when the indicter has heard about the deed, except for the crimes against a person and against national security.
If the indicter doesn’t denounce the deed within this above-mentioned term, he will be criminally held responsible and his denunciation will not be used as evidence in the trial anymore.
The controversial draft law also aims at decriminalizing the crimes committed “for another person”.
So, bribe taking stipulated by the article 289 in the Criminal Code, would be “the deed of the public servant who, directly or indirectly, pretends money or other undue benefits for himself, or accepts the promise of such benefits, which are related to one of his work duties and is punished with prison from 1 to 10 years.”
Compared to the current form of the article, the inferior limit of the prison sentence is decreasing from 3 years to one year and the syntagm “or for another person” has been deleted.
Cătălin Rădulescu argues that the amendments are only to bring the criminal law into line with the ECHR practice. Rădulescu also claims that it is the Venice Commission itself that has required for a higher threshold for the abuse of office. The bill, which is endorsed by 38 Social Democrat lawmakers, among whom deputies Liviu Plesoianu and Andreea Cosma, is under Senate’s debate, but the Chamber of Deputies is the decision-making body. Yet, the bill is not endorsed by some of the Social Democrats, such as the leader of PSD Cluj. PSD MEP Catalin Ivan has also slammed the bill, saying it is “pure infamy”, while opining that the initiators should immediately lose their party membership.
And this is not all. Another bill submitted on December 18 by 40 SocDem MPs, led by the same Cătălin Rădulescu, is practically leaving the National Anti-corruption Directorate (DNA) and the National Integrity Agency (ANI) without their work. More precisely, the bill is amending the article 175 in the Criminal Code, by taking the President, the senators, deputies and local leaders out from the scope of the criminal code provisions, for they cannot be investigated for abuse of office, conflict of interest or bribe taking.
The amendment says that the persons who have been elected in positions of public dignity are considered public servants and they cannot be investigated for such crimes.
Such an amendment has been attempted before in 2013, on the occasion of the blitz-krieg in the Parliament, also known as the “Black Tuesday”, when the former Social Liberal Union (USL) has managed to pass some amendments to the criminal code that provided the MPs and the local elected a super-immunity. Yet, the controversial amendments have been declared unconstitutional by the Constitutional Court.