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Rudolph Giuliani Criticizes an Anticorruption Crackdown in Romania

The representative also pointed to a June 28 statement issued by the embassy, along with the embassies of 11 other countries, which highlighted Romania’s “considerable progress” in combating corruption and in building an effective rule of law. The statement, which came at a time when contentious alterations to the criminal code were moving through Parliament, also called on all parties involved to “avoid changes that would weaken the rule of law or Romania’s ability to fight crime or corruption.”

Romania, which joined the European Union in 2007, has been praised for its efforts to rein in graft in recent years, a drive that has resulted in thousands of convictions, including of former and current politicians.

However, starting in January 2017, the government pushed through measures that many fear will weaken the rule of law. Critics of the anticorruption drive accuse those involved of using it for political purposes and of relying heavily on the use of court-approved wiretaps, while its defenders say that the effort was under fire because of its success in going after vested interests and powerful individuals.

Last month, Laura Codruta Kovesi, the chief prosecutor of the Romanian National Anticorruption Directorate, was fired after accusations of overstepping her authority and damaging Romania’s image abroad. The tensions have led to major protests, the most recent of which, on Aug. 10, resulted in violent clashes in Bucharest that left more than 400 people wounded.

Mr. Giuliani’s letter was well received by some in Romania. Liviu Dragnea, the leader of the leftist Social Democratic Party, the biggest party in the Romanian Parliament, wrote on Facebook that Mr. Giuliani “puts his finger on the wound.”

Mr. Dragnea was sentenced in June to three-and-a-half years in prison after Romania’s highest court found him guilty of abuse of office related to the fictitious hiring of two of his party’s employees at a public institution. He is appealing the verdict. In a separate case in 2015, Mr. Dragnea was convicted of electoral fraud and received a suspended sentence.

“Rudolph Giuliani is a famous federal prosecutor of the United States, who has fought with the mafia and corruption, and whose moral and professional probity commands respect all over the world,” Mr. Dragnea said in a statement, adding that the scrutiny on what he called the “serious violation of human rights and of the principles of the rule of law” was welcome.

Source: NYT > World

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