The story of the Romanian university professor in China arrested for alleged EUR 80 fraud

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Justice Ministry has announced it had taken the first action in the case of Romanian Marius Balo, a university professor sentenced to prison in China.

Alerted by the professor’s lawyers, Romanian minister of Justice, Ana Birchall has contacted the Foreign Ministry “to manage Romania’s legal and diplomatic efforts in this case”, as a JusMin press release informs.

“Justice Ministry is taking all efforts to obtain all legal elements needed to allow the start of the judicial step on the transfer procedure of the Romanian citizen”, says the press release.

Established in China in 2010, Cluj-born Marius Balo was hired as a foreign expert within the XinDongFang (New Oriental) Technology and Education Group in Beijing, where he was trainer. He was a professor at the prestigious Renmin University in Beijing as of 2013.

Marius Balo was arrested in March 2014 for an alleged contractual fraud. Chinese prosecutors claimed the Romanian professor had received USD 80 from some Chinese citizens, without though knowing the sum is coming from a fraud.

A British citizen was in a similar situation, as he had received the same sum of money. However, the Brit did not go to prison for the British Embassy to China had promptly intervened.

Marius Balo was convicted on March 24, 2016 and imprisoned in the maximum security prison in Shanghai and compelled to pay a fine of over RON 61,000. His family paid the fine, but Marius had been held in prison for two years and a half in inhumane conditions. In September 2016 his lawyers sent a transfer request,through the Romanian Consulate, for him to serve the rest of the sentence in Romania.

Marius Balo’s defenders have repeatedly taken actions to the Ministry of Justice starting 2017, then to the Presidential Administration so that Marius should be transferred in Romania, but these actions have received no answers.

The lawyers said the Romanian professor is „subjected to permanent torture” in the Shanghai maximum security prison and has to work hard all day long to get food. For this reasons, Balo is ready to go on hunger strike.

All his fundamental rights have been broken. In the past phone conversations we have had, our client told us he is forced to work 12 hours per day to provide his meal: two tablespoons of rice. Under these circumstances he is decided to go on hunger strike, which makes us very worried about his physical and psychical condition. It is clear the Romanian state must take action immediately,” said lawyer Eugen Iordăchescu in a Facebook post.

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