The Romanian surgeon who performed the first human liver transplant and is one of the leading liver doctors in the country will go on trial on charges of bribing anti-corruption prosecutors.
Irinel Popescu, the manager of the Department of Surgery and Liver Transplantation at the Fundeni Clinical Institute, is suspected of trying to bribe prosecutors 100,000 euros to drop a bribery case against him, the office said Wednesday. He denies wrongdoing.
The anti-corruption prosecutors’ office said in a statement carried by Agerpres said that the renowned surgeon would not be taken into custody during the investigation. A company manager will also stand trial for being an accomplice in the case.
He called the case „a set-up” by anti-corruption prosecutors and vehemently denied the charges.
„I didn’t promise, and I didn’t offer anyone a sum of money or other goods to obtain a favorable solution in ongoing criminal proceedings,” he was quoted as saying by Agerpres news agency.
Prosecutors said that from December 2017 to February 2018, Irinel Popescu, 68, promised the sum to prosecutors through intermediaries in exchange for them dropping another investigation.
„The defendant was willing to offer investigators the aforementioned sum of money so that the procedural measures would have been in his favor… and in the end for him not to be sent to trial,” the statement said.
Despite all these “attempts” Dr Popescu was sent to trial on March 31 on charges of taking bribes and abuse of office. He is accused of repeated bribery for himself and others.
The current file has been sent to Bucharest Tribunal.
After performing the first liver transplant in 2000, the surgeon went on to carry out or oversee more than 450 liver transplants and 1,500 liver resections.
He was active in politics for a while. He also received the Order of the Star of Romania, the highest civil order in 2013 for his contribution to Romanian medicine.
Romania’s healthcare system is still plagued by bribery even after the government hiked wages in the sector in 2017. Doctors and nurses commonly accept ‘envelopes’ from patients.
Even though informal payments and bribes are illegal, the practice dates back to the communist era when wages were very low. Medics and patients are complicit in the practice.