Update 2: Elena Udrea and Alina Bica taken into custody in Costa Rica, placed under preventive arrest for 2 months. Lawyer says no chance for extradition
Elena Udrea and Alina Bica were detained by Interpol in Costa Rica. The two, under APB warrant to serve sentences handed down by Romanian justice, were approached in the street.
Former Tourism Minister, Elena Udrea, has a final sentence of six years imprisonment, and former DIICOT chief, Alina Bica, has to serve four years in prison, digi24.ro reports.
Their remand in Costa Rica does not mean immediate extradition. Costa Rica and Romania do not have a bilateral extradition treaty, but Costa Rica has signed an international treaty agreeing to extradite citizens accused of corruption by their countries. Both Elena Udrea and Alina Bica have in Romania other files in court than those in which they have already been sentenced.
The authorities of Costa Rica have collaborated with the Costa Rican Intelligence Directorate and with INTERPOL for this operation.
The information was made public by the Judicial Investigation Authority in Costa Rica. The institution has also published a video of a few seconds long about Elena Udrea. She is surrounded by law enforcement forces in San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica, and she seems calm.
Later on, the head of the local Interpol Bureau in Costa Rica, Gustavo Chinchilla, announced that Udrea and Bica will stay under preventive arrest for two months.
Elena Udrea was detained on Wednesday, around 10:00h local time (19:00h, Romania time), and Alina Bica four hours later. Both were remanded in the street.
According to a press release, the two have been investigated, supervised and monitored for some time by the Costa Rican authorities. Both had red alerts in the INTERPOL database as a result of the sentences received in Romania in corruption files.
The former minister and former head of DIICOT were placed in custody under the orders of the San José Criminal Court.
The local press wrote that because of the asylum applications lodged by Elena Udrea and Alina Bica, the two cannot be extradited immediately. The Court may approve preventive measures until the migration authority decides whether or not to grant them the asylum status.
Elena Udrea, who recently gave birth to a girl in Costa Rica, was sentenced in June to six years in prison in the ‘Bute Gala’ file for bribe taking and abuse of office. She had left Costa Rica since February and was under an APB warrant.
Udrea’s lawyer says no chance for extradition
Veronel Radulescu, Elena Udrea’s lawyer, said on Thursday that the “chances are zero” to extradite her from Costa Rica, one of the arguments being that the law in that country prohibits the separation of the child from the parents.
“She is in the custody of the Costa Rican authorities. We are not talking about an arrest, we can talk about a temporary restraint until the legal situation is settled, and it is possible to have a preventive measure during the extradition request, but we hope this measure will be a surveillance one,” Radulescu said.
Asked about the chances of Elena Udrea and Alina Bica to be extradited and brought to Romania, the lawyer said: “In my opinion, the chances are zero, I have a lot of arguments, Elena Udrea’s daughter is Costa Rican citizen, and the child protection law in Costa Rica forbids the separation of the child from the parents, which is why I was saying that the chances are zero. As far as Alina Bica is concerned, she is sentenced for the crime of favoring the offender, I know that this offense has no correspondent in the Costa Rican legislation and thus it cannot be enforced. (…) At this point, the baby girl is in the care of Mrs. Udrea’s mother and her father, Adrian Alexandrov, at their home in Costa Rica.”
However,the head of the Interporl local office said that the extradition procedure is ongoing and that the Department for technical consultancy and International Relations upon the General Prosecutor’s Office in Costa Rica has informed it had initiated the assessment procedures of Romania’s extradition request in Udrea’s and Bica’s case. The extradition requests will be analysed separately, news websites CRhoy.com and AmeliaRueda.com reported.
Costa Rica Interpol head stated that the family arguments “do not represent obstacles” for an extradition, which this contradicts the statements made by Udrea’s lawyer.
Justice Minister, Tudorel Toader: The procedure will follow the legal steps
Justice Minister Tudorel Toader said on Thursday that the extradition procedure for Elena Udrea in Costa Rica will continue to follow the legal steps, stating that he does not distinguish between the sentences people. “Let’s not make out of this person a national character. The procedure will go through the legal steps, for me it is not a subject Elena Udrea, a sentences person for the country? Why don’t you look at the many people sentences living abroad who have the same course. I do not make a distinction,” Tudorel Toader said at the Superior Council of Magistracy (CSM) offices.
On Monday, it was decided that the court case in the Hidroelectrica file can start, in which former Tourism Minister Elena Udrea and journalist Dan Andronic are indicted by the National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA) prosecutors accuse them for influence peddling and money laundering, respectively false testimony.
This is the decision of a judge with the Bucharest Court of Appeals. The magistrate has rejected on Monday the exceptions raised by Udrea and Andronic. He found the lawfulness of the administration of evidence, the execution of criminal prosecution acts and the indictment to the court in this file.
Elena Udrea fled Romania only four months before being sentenced in the ‘Bute Gala’ file, she has flown to Costa Rica, a country which does not have an extradition treaty with Romania.
Elena Udrea has given birth, in Costa Rica, on September 20, before the term. Elena Udrea’s first child will be named Eva Maria, as she announced a few weeks ago.
Former Minister Elena Udrea was officially placed, in June, on APB for bribe taking and abuse of office by the Romanian Police. A photo of Udrea was posted on the Police website, after the request to the court Tuesday evening for a European Arrest Warrant applicable between EU Member States and a request for international prosecution.
Sentenced to six years in prison in the ‘Bute Gala’ file, former Tourism Minister Elena Udrea is in Costa Rica, where earlier this year she requested political asylum.
The High Court of Cassation and Justice (ICCJ – Supreme Court) sentenced former Tourism Minister Elena Udrea to six years and four months imprisonment in the ‘Bute Gala’ file. Rudel Obreja was sentenced to five years in prison. The rulings are final.
Former chief prosecutor of the Directorate for Investigating Organized Crime and Terrorism (DIICOT) was placed on APB warrant in June for ‘favouring the offender’.
Her photo and information about the warrant are posted on the Romanian Police website, together with more than 1,000 Romanians on APB warrant.
On Bica’s name there is a warrant for serving the sentence in jail issued on June 26 by the Bucharest Court, Criminal Section I.
According to procedures, the Police have requested the court to issue a European Arrest Warrant.
The Supreme Court has decided on June 26 to acquit former DIICOT chief prosecutor Alina Bica in the file on the businessman Horia Simu, where Bica had been sentenced to 3.5 years in prison in first court for favouring the offender. The ruling is final.