Romanian prison authorities probe how ex-party chief allowed out of prison for 24 hours

Prison authorities say they are investigating how former chairman of the Social Democracy Party Liviu Dragnea was potentially granted an illegal one-day release from prison.

The announcement came after Justice Minister Ana Birchall asked the National Penitentiaries Administration to provide details about his time out, reportedly late last week.

Media reports said he was quietly given a day out of Rahova jail on Thursday and returned to prison Friday where he is serving a 3 ½ year sentence  for using his influence to procure fake public jobs for two women who were actually working for the Social Democrats at the time.

Reports said that Dragnea had planned the release for his 57th birthday on Oct. 28, but his request was denied after it was leaked to the media.

Dragnea, who was also speaker of the Chamber of Deputies, was seen as Romania’s most powerful politician after the Social Democrats won 2016 parliamentary elections. The party then embarked on a contentious judicial overhaul that critics said would water down the fight against high-level corruption.

He was jailed on May 27, a day after the party suffered big losses in European Parliament elections.

Legally, a one-day furlough is granted to inmates after serving four months of jail time. Although Dragnea has been imprisoned for five months, he is disqualified because he is being investigated in another case. Prosecutors say he was involved in illegally obtaining EU funds for a road project in southern Romania.

Sorin Dumitrașcu, trade union leader of the National Penitentiaries Administration told Digi 24  that Dragnea was getting preferential treatment. „Prisoners are entitled to get rewards, the probalme is VIP inmatdes are getting these rewards more quickly and more often.”

According to reports, Dragnea is a “model prisoner.” He works at a unit in the prison repairing vehicles for the prison administration.

The State Department of United States has banned Dragnea from entering the U.S.  „due to his involvement in significant corruption.”


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