Several NGOs in Romania and abroad are asking in an online petition that the prosecutor who handled the Tandarei child trafficking case, recently closed, to be sacked or to be expelled from magistracy.
The high-sounding case, which has been investigated for almost ten years, in partnership with the British authorities, has been closed down by the courts in Romania this year and those 25 defendants have been acquitted. They were charged with leading an organised crime group and of trafficking children to the UK.
The investigation has identified 1,087 children as having been exploited outside Romania. The British authorities estimated that for each exploited child, the profit of the criminal group stood at GBP 160,000/year. The victims identified in the UK were exploited for at least 2 years, with the youngest being only several months old.
This was the first case involving a EU joint investigation team on the human trafficking against one of the most violent criminal rings acting across Europe. The team has been financed by the European Commission and by other countries with some millions of euros. The inquiry has even prompted amendments to the EU legislation and to the Directive 36/2011.
“We, the citizens of Romania, ask the honourable resignation or the exclusion of magistracy of the prosecutor who handled the Tandarei human trafficking case, for not properly using the evidence and information that she had at hand in at least two big child trafficking files: Țăndărei and Shanghai. The EU report of December 2018 shows that Romanians represent 74% of the victims of human trafficking, European citizens, identified in those 28 Member States. Amid this vulnerability background, there are some prosecutors in Romania who, although have clear evidence against the organized crime groups, don’t use this evidence properly. These situations must end now!”, the NGOs argued.
Among the signatory NGOs, there are the European Center for Education and the Legal Research, Freedom House Romania, Cambridge Center for Applied Research in Human Trafficking (UK), Human Trafficking Foundation (UK), WorldTeach Romania, Valoare Plus, The Association of Romanian Women in Italy, Cetre Syene for Education, The Open Door, the Cultural Social Economic Association Christiana.
25 defendants of 26 in the Ţăndărei case have been acquitted in a final ruling by the Targu-Mures Court of Appeal on Monday, December 23. The judges argued there is no standing case.
The investigation kicked off after 160 Roma children had been identified as beggars in UK. The British police proved the little ones had been trafficked by the defendants.
The British mass media reported last spring about this high-sounding case, with The Sun writing that “more than 300 of these villas have been built, paid for by the hundreds of children sent to beg and steal on the streets of Britain. These children, some just toddlers, are ruthlessly exploited by Fagin-like gangs run by Roma gypsies.”
In an interview to g4media.ro, Bernie Gravett, the British police officer who worked on the Tandarei case, said he was shocked to hear the court in Romania had closed the case for good and acquitted the 25 defendants, for “there is no standing case”. Gravett said that, in his view, there was enough evidence to send the defendants to prison, reminding that UK had put behind bars 120 members of the gang.
“I am extremely sad for the victims and their families, but also for the policemen who had worked on this case for 5 years. All their efforts led to nothing. I cannot say who’s fault it is, of the system, of the court or of the prosecutors. In my view, there was evidence. We provided the Romanian prosecutors with evidence that 181 children from Tandarei had been exploited and put into forced labour here in the UK,” the British policeman said, adding that following searches in Tandarei in April 2010, investigators found money, gold, stolen goods, expensive cars, an explainable wealth and weapons in the possession of the human trafficking ring.