Romanian Court Rejects Ban on Pardons for Corrupt Politicians
Romania's highest court ruled on Thursday that a ban on amnesties and pardons for corrupt politicians would infringe the "fundamental rights" of anyone amnestied or pardoned, as presidential pardons are mainly given on health and humanitarian grounds.
The proposed ban was supported by more than 80 per cent of people who voted in a nationwide referendum on justice issues in May.
The Constitutional Court reached its conclusion after evaluating two rival pieces of draft legislation to turn the referendum results into law, tabled by the Social Democrat-led government and the centre-right National Liberal Party-led opposition.
The National Liberal Party, PNL branded the court decision "inexplicable", and suggested that it "can be interpreted by those accustomed to involvement in corrupt acts as an unexpected gift".
The PNL's opposition partners, the Alliance USR PLUS, accused the Constitutional Court of acting against "the will of Romanians".
But Calin Popescu-Tariceanu, a former prime minister and leader of the government's liberal minority partners, said the court's decision highlighted the unconstitutional nature of the referendum, which was called by centre-right President Klaus Iohannis in order to halt the government's controversial agenda of judicial reforms.
Since it took power in January 2017, the Social Democratic government has been heavily criticised at home and in Brussels for weakening anti-corruption legislation and allegedly undermining the rule of law through its judicial reforms.
According to its critics, the reforms have been aimed at protecting the former Social Democrat leader Liviu Dragnea, who was considered the de facto prime minister and was jailed on May 27 after being convicted of corruption.