A Romanian court has granted the conditional release from prison of Liviu Dragnea, the former Social Democrat chairman, the country’s biggest party.
A court in Giurgiu on Thursday ruled to free the Mr Dragnea after serving 2 years and 2 months of a 3 ½ year sentence for a corruption-related case. The ruling is final. He is expected to be released later Thursday.
Mr Dragnea was the feared chairman of the Social Democrats from October 2015 to May 2019. The party came first in December 2020 elections but failed to get enough votes to form a majority with another group.
Mr Dragnea, 58, was highly critical of Romania’s anti-corruption fight and sought to overhaul the judicial system. The moves provoked the biggest protests since the end of communism. He claimed the case against him was politically motivated.
He refused to resign as party chief. However, he was forced out after he was sentenced in May 2019. He went to prison a day after the party did poorly in European Parliament elections.
the court convicted him in a fake jobs case. Prosecutors said he made the local social welfare pay the salaries of two women for six years. They were actually working for the Social Democrats.
In June 2020, the former strongman was indicted of embezzling millions of euros of European Union funds. Prosecutors said he forged documents to ensure a company won contracts to build roads during his term as the chairman of the county council.
The Anticorruption Directorate said he conspired to privatize the state road construction company Tel Drum SA through intermediaries.
They then made sure the firm won several public contracts, either without tenders or thanks to benefiting from confidential information that helped it defeat other bidders.
Romanian prosecutors named him a suspect in the Tel Drum case in November 2017, following a complaint filed by the European Anti-Fraud Office, OLAF.