Home / SOCIETY & PEOPLE / LAW & CRIME / Update3: Elena Udrea claims she has political refugee status in Costa Rica. Supreme Court rejects assertion. Sentence postponed
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Update3: Elena Udrea claims she has political refugee status in Costa Rica. Supreme Court rejects assertion. Sentence postponed

Elena Udrea has been granted the political refugee status in Costa Rica, one of the lawyers of the former minister has told the High Court of Cassation and Justice (ICCJ – Supreme Court) on Friday, which was at the last term in the ‘Bute Gala’ file. The information was delivered by Udrea’s lawyer, Veronel Rădulescu. The political refugee status was allegedly granted on March 21.

In the first court, she was sentenced to six years in jail, digi24.ro reports.

On Friday, ICCJ postponed the sentence on May 9.

Elena Udrea requested to be heard through videoconference or rogatory commission in the lawsuit that began in 2015. Claim

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.

The ICCJ has rejected on Friday the request for a rogatory commission and that hearings are to be heard through videoconference.

“The documents issued by the authorities from Costa Rica do not reveal that Elena Udrea has been granted the political refugee status, but she only has requested this status. The High Court rejects the request for hearings by rogatory commission or by means of communication at distance,” the chairman of the panel of five judges said.

A National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA) prosecutor told ICCJ on Friday that the documents submitted to court by Elena Udrea’s lawyer do not read she has been granted the political refugee status.

“There is no evidence in the document that she has been granted the refugee status. A provisional note of the applicant, Elena Udrea, was presented, stating that she had applied for the refugee status on February 22, and had an interview on March 21, during which time she informed the local court that it is impossible for her to go to court. The documents are provisional and show that she is allowed to stay and in no case that she has the status of refugee. Take note of the tendentious translation of the documents. This is what is mentioned in the act by a provisional note,” the prosecutor said.

“The refugee status was granted on the basis of the UN Refugee Convention of 1956, ratified by the Romanian Parliament in 1991. This status, on the one hand, protects her from possible extradition requests and, on the other hand, grants her all the rights of defence in that state. It is her right to benefit from the right to defence, to be entitled to plead her cause before the court. It is also the reason why we requested for the hearing to take place through means of distance communication or by rogatory commission,” Udrea’s lawyer told the court.

Udrea further claims having political refugee status, blames judges

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.

“The magistrates say ‘no’ on whatever is related to Elena Udrea, the order is given, they have to complete the task. I do have this status. Costa Rica’s legislation provides two steps: first you get a provisional status for one year, then you get it permanently. I was granted this provisional status on March 21. One obligation is not to leave Costa Rica,” Elena Udrea said.

She claims initially she did not want to get this status. She motivated her request with the abuses in Romania – one group is using the justice and revealed real cases. “I explained why I say Romania violates my rights,” Udrea said.

She claims she can return to Romania anytime and has no property in Costa Rica.

Asked about the means of livelihood, Udrea said: “I have no big expenses. My family is not here now. My mother was here for Easter, but she left yesterday or the day before yesterday. I pay for accommodation, rent and food. I want things to be solved at home and to return. If the situation continues, I will be forced to build a life here, I am obliged to Costa Rica,” Udrea said.

Sentenced to six years in the first court

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.

Former Tourism Minister Elena Udrea, investigated in Romania for corruption, currently in Costa Rica, announced in late March she has miscarried one of her twins. Udrea announced in mid-February she was pregnant with twins.

Her lawyer Alexandru Chiciu has filed documents in court certifying she has miscarried one of the twins and that she is compelled to keep to her bed to avoid any risk of miscarrying the other baby.

Elena Udrea, former Development and Tourism Minister in the Emil Boc cabinet, is prosecuted in several files, and is in Costa Rica, living in the same neighbourhood with the former National Directorate for Combating Organised Crime and Terrorism (DIICOT) head, Alina Bica, also prosecuted in some corruption files, who left Romania for Costa Rica at the end of last year.

“As long as I am a free citizen, even of a country which does not observe freedom and citizens’ rights, I am free to leave. I haven’t run away because I had no reason, nothing prevented me from travelling, I can go wherever I want to and return after I conclude my visit, holiday, etc.” Udrea wrote on her Facebook page in mid February.

Rise Project released a document proving that Alina Bica has joined business with people sentenced or prosecuted in Romania for fraud and corruption. Bica’s husband is also in Costa Rica, where he allegedly has opened an import-export firm with agricultural products and on animal breeding.

About Valeriu Lazar