Romania's former prime minister sentenced to prison for corruption

Former Romanian Prime Minister Adrian Nastase leaves the High Court of Justice during his trial.

Story highlights

  • Nastase was convicted of illegally raising campaign funds
  • He denies the charges and says he will appeal
  • The EU has urged Romania to do more about corruption
Romania's former Prime Minister Adrian Nastase was sentenced Monday to two years of prison in a corruption case after more than 1,000 days of trial and over 900 witnesses.
Romania's Supreme Court found Nastase guilty of illegally raising 1.6 million euros ($2.1 million) during his 2004 election campaign, when he ran for president on behalf of the Social Democrat Party.
It is the first prison sentence for a Romanian prime minister since the fall of communism.
The case, nicknamed "The Quality Trophy," refers to a conference organized by a state construction agency in 2004, where companies and institutions donated money that was later used by Nastase to fund his campaign, according to prosecutors.
The trial started in January 2009, after Nastase was accused of using his political influence as a party leader in his own interest.
Nastase, who was defeated in 2004 by Traian Basescu, said Monday he was innocent. "The trial was a political one. Everything started during the electoral campaign in 2004. The winner is now taking revenge on the loser," Nastase said.
Five other people were charged in this case and received up to seven-year prison sentences.
Nastase, who was Romania's premier from 2000 to 2004 and remains an important figure in the opposition coalition, announced he will appeal the decision.
This is not the first corruption case involving Nastase. The Social Democrat leader was accused of paying a $400,000 bribe to the former head of the country's anti-money laundering agency to delete some documents related to his wife's bank account.
The case, called "Aunt Tamara," refers to Nastase's claim that the money his wife had in the bank account belonged to her Aunt Tamara, who sold some jewelry and expensive paintings. Nastase was found innocent in that case.
Nastase's sentence follows more than two weeks of anti-government protests in Romania. Besides the austerity measures taken by the government over the last two years, some of the people who took to the streets were protesting against Romania's allegedly corrupt government and its politicians.
The European Union has repeatedly called on Romania to put more effort into tackling corruption and enacting judicial reform. The country was blocked last year from joining the European Union's Schengen passport-free area as northern European countries expressed their concerns about Romania's level of corruption.