A Romanian mayor and more than a dozen election officials have been detained on suspicion of election fraud.
The Prahova county court ruled on Monday that Marin Voicu, the mayor of the village of Ciorani and 15 others be placed under arrest, Hotnews reported. A sixteenth suspect was freed during the investigation.
The charges are connected to the September 2020 local elections.
Mr Voicu was re-elected mayor with 83% of the votes in the ballot. The Social Democrat mayor was first elected mayor of the village in southeast Romania in 2008.
However, in 2020, he left the Social Democrats who were trailing in the polls and joined the ruling Liberal Party.
But there were suspicions about his overwhelming win and how it had been obtained.
Last week police and prosecutors carried out house searches at the mayor’s and election officials’ homes. They were looking for evidence of election fraud.
Fifteen searches were carried out last week in Ciorani, including at the town hall. The mayor’s home was also searched, Agrepres news agency reported.
Three election officials who live in the county town of Ploiesti also had their homes searched.
The officials were taken for questioning last week. The court ordered they be detained on Monday.
The prosecutor’s office said that on 27th September 2020, election officials falsified the results by adding false data.
They specifically recorded a lower number of votes for certain candidates and some political parties, prosecutors said in a statement.
The Ploiesti special operations police unit helped the probe.