Ex-minister of Youth and Sports Monica Iacob Ridzi might be released from prison

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Former Democrat Liberal minister of Youth and Sports, Monica Iacob Ridzi, might be released from prison, after staying behind bars at Gherla Penitentiary almost three years, following a Friday’s court ruling Okaying her release. Yet the ruling is not final and can be challenged by prosecutors.

Gherla Court has ruled on Friday to release Monica Iacob Ridzi from prison, where she has been staying for two years and eight months for corruption-related charges. She was sentenced to jail time for abuse of office in a case referring to  the manifestations organized on Youth Day in 2009 by the ministry she used to lead.

In February 2015, former Minister of Youth and Sports Monica Iacob Ridzi was definitively sentenced by the Supreme Court to 5 years imprisonment, for abuse of office on events organized on Youth Day in 2009, while her former counselor Ioana Varsta was sentenced also to 5 years. Prosecutors say that in 2009, the former minister produced a RON 3 million prejudices to the state, having organized several events for World Youth Day.

After the sentence, the former minister surrendered to the Cluj County Police and was imprisoned Gherla Penitentiary, but due to her precarious health condition she was transferred in March 2015 to the hospital of the Jilava Penitentiary near Bucharest. Later on, she had been imprisoned at Gherla again.

As a matter of fact, she filed in March 2015 a request asking to for a sentence cut arguing she suffered of various diseases, among whom thrombophilia. Soon after being imprisoned she slammed prison conditions and the scarce medical system in jail, arguing that for a sick person like her a prison conviction is similar to a death sentence. Later on in May, her husband, Tiberiu Iacob –Ridzi, the mayor of Petroșani town, filed an amnesty request for his wife, alleging her illness as well as the situation of their two children, a five-year-old boy and a two-year-old girl.

President Klaus Iohannis on Thursday however rejected the amnesty request in her case.

At the last court term Ridzi also called on the judges to give her the opportunity to raise her two children and claimed that everything comes from the fact that she had been “credulous”.

Monica Iacob Ridzi is accused of favouring two private companies in the period during which she had been the Minister of Youth and Sports. DNA prosecutors claim that she diverted to the two companies over EUR 600,000 for organizing the Youth Day on May 2, 2009. The two companies were newly set up and had joint headquarters in an apartment, having the same shareholders.

“Iacob Ridzi Monica Maria, as minister of the Ministry of Youth and Sports, together with other officials of the ministry, has prejudiced the ministry’s budget by concluding three service contracts without previously being organized and carried out any tender procedure,” reads a DNA release.

In February 2010, the anticorruption prosecutors requested the parliament for an IT search in this file, but the request was blocked by the Legal Committee of the Chamber of Deputies for nearly 10 months, after which it was rejected by the Chamber.

Monica Iacob Ridzi denied the allegations and said that the contracts had been legal. Former Minister of Youth was indicted in May 2011.

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