CSM reassesses content of proposed amendment to Article 308 of Criminal Code

The Superior Council of the Magistrates (CSM) announced on Wednesday having reassessed the content of the proposed amendment to Article 308 of the Criminal Code, which had been interpreted in the public space in a manner contrary to the desired meaning.

"Having in view that CSM's proposal to amend Article 308 of the Criminal Code was interpreted in a manner contrary to the one pursued, fueling public rhetoric that is potentially aimed at changing the content of the offence of abuse of office committed by civil servants - an assumption the Council categorically rejects, as its incrimination is fully justified - Commission No.1 - Legislation and interinstitutional cooperation convened in sitting on May 16, 2018, reassessed the content of the proposed text in order to reinforce the purpose initially pursued - the priority recouping of the loss in the case of offences committed exclusively in the private environment," CSM said in a release.

According to the cited source, the CSM categorically rejects the distortion, by persons from the entire political spectrum, of the opinions it expresses while exercising its constitutional role in public debates. Previously, the CSM had said it did not propose a threshold value for any crime whatsoever.

"The Council did not propose the establishment of a threshold for any crime, much less in the case of abuse of office committed by civil servants or in the case of corruption offences. The Council referred to the Select Committee (...) on justice law systematization, unification and stability a point of view on the request of the Ministry of Public Finance to amend Law No. 241/2005 on tax evasion. This move was aimed at the recovery of the damage and not at the pre-emption of punitive measures," the CSM said on Tuesday.

In the broader context of the debates on the amendments to the Criminal Code, the Council representatives proposed an integrated approach to economic crime by a new version of criminalization set forth in Article 308 of the Criminal Code, which exclusively regulates offences committed in the private milieu. "We thus emphasize that the non-punishment or punishment mitigation proposed by the Council envisages certain deeds committed exclusively by private employees and not by civil servants," the CSM said.

According to an amendment proposed by the CSM and debated on Tuesday in the select parliamentary committee on the laws of justice, Article 308 on corruption offences and malfeasance in office committed by others shall be supplemented by four new paragraphs which shall read as follows: "(3) In the case of the offences referred to in Article 295 (embezzlement) (...) the reconciliation of the parties results in the removal of criminal liability; (4) The offences referred to in Article 295, 297-300 (abuse of office, neglect in office, abuse of office for sexual purposes and usurpation of office) and Art. 304 (disclosure of classified or non-public secret information) are not punishable if the damage produced is less than the equivalent of 50,000 euro in national currency and the perpetrator fully covers the loss by the time the case is referred to the court. (5) If the offences referred to in paragraph 4 have produced a material loss, and the offender fully covers the loss during the prosecution or by the time the final judgment is handed down, the prescribed limits shall be reduced by half; (6) The provisions of Para. 4 and 5 shall apply to all persons who have jointly committed one of the acts referred to in paragraph 4, regardless of whether the payment was made solely by one or by some of the persons.

Deputy Stelian Ion from the Save Romania Union, who chairs the select parliamentary committee, on Tuesday voiced concerns about PSD and the CSM acting in coordination as regards the amendment of Article 308 of the Criminal Code. AGERPRES (RO - author: George Onea, editor: Georgiana Tanasescu; EN - author: Simona Klodnischi, editor: Simona Iacob)

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