29 May 2019
Romania’s Supreme Court upheld a three-and-a-half year prison sentence for graft against ruling Social Democrat Party leader Liviu Dragnea on Monday, one day after his party lost a European election to centrist groupings.
Since coming to power in late 2016, the Social Democrats have steadily chipped away at the independence of the judiciary, raising sharp criticism from the European Union and triggering Romania’s largest street protests in decades.
On Sunday, voters overwhelmingly backed a referendum called by centrist President Klaus Iohannis to prevent Dragnea’s party from further weakening the courts.
The Supreme Court found 56-year-old Dragnea, who is also speaker of the lower house of parliament, guilty of keeping two women on the payroll of a child protection state agency for years even though they were working for his party.
He appealed against the initial verdict last year and was free pending the appeal, but Monday’s ruling was final and he was expected to go to prison later in the day.
By Luiza Ilie and Radu-Sorin Marinas, Reuters, 27 May 2019
Read more at Reuters
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