Criminal Code review: Amendments could harm the national security, President Basescu points

Publish date: 21-11-2007
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Romanian President Traian Basescu sent back to Parliament the draft law regarding amendments brought to the Criminal Code and the Criminal Procedures Code as they could block investigations and undermine the state's authority, after the issue spurred controversies.

The Parliament is attempting to subordinate the public interest to that of an alleged lawbreaker, Basescu said summarizing his decision to send the draft back to Parliament. The president underlined the amendments protect the rights of those put under investigation and limit the prerogatives of the judicial organs. Basescu pointed the effects could be very serious.

"Such measures can even affect the national security," Basescu said. The recent amendments include harsh punishments for those who disclose information without permission regarding criminal files, do not allow wiretapping before the official beginning of investigations and limit the investigation period to six months.

Basescu accused lawmakers of trying to protect their political clients by approving the changes. The changes were developed after a former agriculture minister was shown on the public television channel allegedly taking bribe. The footage was said to be part of an on-going investigation against the minister. The media case built against him forced the official to leave his post. However, politicians reacted fiercely against the media, accusing journalists of using evidence from a judicial case and decided to go for the law.

U.S. ambassador Nicholas Taubman reacted to the case. He scolded Romania's Parliament on November 14 urging it to stop intimidating and incriminating the press and criticized  the amendments.

Taubman's words spurred vehement reactions from several politicians, including the head of the Chamber of Deputies, Bogdan Olteanu, who said the ambassador was sent to Bucharest only because he financed Bush's election campaign. Social Democrat opposition deputy Eugen Nicolicea deemed the ambassador's words are false and likely to affect the country.

Prime Minister Calin Popescu Tariceanu also took a stance and said that although the two bills are bad it does not give a foreign diplomat the right to criticize the law frame.

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