Prosecutor General on cutting video recordings as evidence in criminal cases: Revolution file might be seriously harmed. Bucharest chief police gives a tougher warning

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Romania’s Prosecutor General, Augustin Lazar, has stated on Tuesday that if the amendments to the criminal code are adopted in the way that video evidence will be cut from the investigations, the Revolution file might be seriously harmed, along with other major cases. He argued that in the Revolution file prosecutors are working with significant videotapes that will be banned according to the new provisions.

In my opinion, the amendments to the criminal codes will seriously unbalance the judiciary tools, in the way that the tools related to the evidence in the criminal files will be seriously affected, practically the criminal action will be harmed if, for instance, video cameras will be removed from public spaces. To prove a crime, an offense failing a video tape will be extremely difficult. The Revolution file will be seriously affected. We obviously have video tapes showing who has shot, there are documentary tapes dating back 27 years ago, which are very important to see certain people’s action back then,” Lazar argued.

He underlined that the initiators of these controversial amendments had thought only of the defendants, and not of the victims.

The special committee set up to amend the criminal code and the criminal procedure code is debating the possibility of strengthening the provision of the benefit of doubt, which may lead to incredible abuses that might help a guilty person escape prosecution and a potential jail sentence.

Among the controversial amendments at issue, there is also the one saying that “no other recordings will represent evidence in a trial” except for the ones that refer to the defendants’ own talks with third parties”.

The chief of the crime department of the Bucharest Police, Radu Gavris, has lashed out against amendments, in an unprecedented move for a police chief so far, warning that by removing video recordings as evidence, the investigations will be hindered and dangerous criminals will be out in the streets and hard to catch.

Gavris told an interview to Digi24 that the amendments are practically destroying any criminal file investigating violent crimes, warning that murders, rapists, child molesters and other dangerous criminals might be never caught and imprisoned.

The police chief also slammed the amendment that a suspect in a case is allowed to attend the victim’s hearing. “The child molester to attend the hearing of an abused child….figure out…How could I comment such a thing?”, he asked.

Questioned of criminality might rise if these amendments come into force, Radu Gavris said: “ I dont’t think. I am sure of that!”, exemplifying that all crimes with unknown author have solved in Bucharest in the past six years. “All these cases have been solved. In most of the cases, we counted on the video cameras. There are cases when the author has been caught, arrested and sentenced to prison exclusively based on the images caught by the surveillance cameras,” Gavris stated.

Yet, the Interior Minister Carmen Dan has criticized the police chief for publicly commenting, saying his stance doesn’t reflect her stance and that the Romanian police chiefs are compelled to check if Radu Gavris had the permission to grant that interview.

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