Elena Udrea and Alina Bica might have travelled to Costa Rica in vain, as the latest information has revealed they could be extradited to Romania if convicted for corruption deeds.
Several politicians from Romania have fled the country in the past months and have taken refuge in exotic countries such as Costa Rica and Madagascar (former mayor of Constanta city, Radu Mazare), countries without a bilateral extradition treaty with Romania.
Udrea, Bica and Mazare have all filed for political refugee statute. However, the extradition can be made on the basis of international treaties signed by Romania and the respective countries, adevarul.ro reports.
The UN Convention
One of the documents is the UN Convention against Corruption, adopted by the United Nations in New York on October 31, 2003, aka. the Merida Convention, named after the place where it was filed, the Mexican city of Merida.
The UN Convention is the only judicial global instrument to fight against corruption, binding for all signatories. It refers to: bribe taking and bribe giving, misappropriation of public funds, influence peddling, abuse of office, illicit wealth, money laundering, obstruction of justice and it is signed by 140 countries.
Romania signed the convention on December 10, 2003 and ratified it on November 2, 2004. Costa Rica on December 10, 2003 and March 21, 2007 respectively, whereas Madagascar on December 10, 2003 and September 22, 2004. Thus, all three countries are full members of the convention, which stands as good as a bilateral extradition treaty, adevarul.ro informs.
Citing Oliver Landwehr, legal adviser with UNODC, the paper informs that e,g, Madagascar considers the convention as legal basis for extradition.
The conclusion is that, regardless of a bilateral treaty, Costa Rica and Madagascar take the convention as legal basis for extradition and the three Romanians meet the demands for extradition, on the condition Romanian authorities request this procedure.
Court decisions on Bica, Udrea and Mazare
Alina Bica, former National Directorate for Combating Organised Crime and Terrorism (DIICOT) head, requested political asylum in Costa Rica, her lawyer, Doru Trăilă, informed the High Court of Cassation and Justice (ICCJ – Supreme Court) on Friday. The lawyer claimed Alina Bica has been granted the political refugee status in Costa Rica in January
However, the ICCJ judges said on Friday that Alina Bica has not been granted political refugee status in Costa Rica, as her lawyer argues, the former head of DIICOT being a solicitor with a provisional approval expiring in January 2019.
The media informed, early this year, that Alina Bica left for Costa Rica. She is sentenced in two criminal files, but the rulings are not final.
Alina Bica lives in the same neighbourhood with Elena Udrea, former Development and Tourism Minister in the Emil Boc cabinet, who is also prosecuted in several files. Bica and Udrea are close friends. In the first court, Udrea was sentenced to six years in jail. Last Friday, ICCJ postponed the sentence on May 9.
She is currently in Costa Rica, and earlier she announced through her lawyers that she wants to make a statement in the lawsuit, but she cannot be present because she is pregnant and the doctors have advised her not to move.
In a phone conversation with Antena 3 TV, Elena Udrea still claimed she has been granted the political refugee status on March 21 and has the obligation not to leave the territory of Costa Rica. Her statement comes soon after the ICCJ denied the documents sent in court confirm this status.
On March 29, 2017, Elena Udrea was sentenced to six years imprisonment with execution in the ‘Bute Gala’ file for bribery and abuse of office.
On the other hand, Costa Rica seems to become a haven for Romanians having trouble with the law. Recently, Sergiu Diacomantu, former Vice President of the National Agency for Property Restitution (ANRP), announced he is in Costa Rica. He reportedly left the country on April 9 and has not returned,
ICCJ uphold in mid January the request of the National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA) to issue an arrest warrant in absentia on the name of the former mayor of Constanta, Radu Mazare, after violating the terms of judicial control and leaving for Madagascar.
On December 30, 2017 the IGPR announced that Radu Mazăre, who was under judicial control, did not come to the Constanţa Police to sign the attendance chart, the former judge informing the case officer that he is on the territory of Madagascar, taking steps to obtain political asylum.