Băneasa case judge charged with abuse of office and wrongfully convicting defendant

Judge Corneliu-Bogdan Ion-Tudoran, who ruled in Romania’s high profile Băneasa real estate development case, has been charged with wrongly convicting a defendant and for abuse of office for his conduct in the case. The Băneasa development involved businessman Gabriel Popoviciu and concerned 221 hectares which was owned by the University of Agronomic Sciences and Veterinary Medicine (USAMV), through a joint venture.

It emerged that last month, Judge Tudoran has been charged with wrongfully convicting a defendant and abuse of office for his misconduct in the Popoviciu – Băneasa case. It was already known that Judge Tudoran provided the statement of reasons for the decision on the civil side of the Popoviciu – Băneasa case almost a whole year after the ruling. At that point he was retired and, when no longer still held the position of judge. Moreover, at the time of writing his judicial opinion, he was actually hospitalised in a psychiatric centre, with the document being delivered to the court room on a USB stick by his son.

The charges against him in January of this year revealed that his alleged misconduct dated back even further and included the invention of evidence to justify the confiscation of lands and buildings of the largest shopping complex in Romania.

The investigation, directed by Nicolae Marin of the National Anti-Corruption Directorate (DNA), into the Băneasa case appears to have had many irregularities. The DNA prosecutors opened the a case for “abuse of office”, despite the fact that the Prosecutor General’s Office had investigated the case and rejected it. However, in 2008 the DNA reopened the case on the grounds that the damages exceeded one million Euros. This is despite the fact that the calculation of the damages was not actually estimated and reported by the DNA specialists until 2010, two years later.

The catalogue of irregularities relating to Marin’s investigation includes the claim that the main prosecution witness admitted in court that he was not bribed by the businessman, thus contradicting the investigators. A former Minister of Education, in addition to other witnesses, told the DNA that the land in Băneasa was never public property and, therefore, the prosecutor’s office could not support the legal accusation of abuse of office. University professors were allegedly threatened with arrest by prosecutor Nicolae Marin if they did not vote in the Senate that the University was constituting itself as a civil party, as requested in writing by the DNA, as has been widely reported by the press. These threats against the University professors were revealed during the senate meeting held on 27 July 2012 which was audio and video recorded and submitted as evidence in the case.

Not only did Judge Tudoran not question the excesses of the prosecutor, it is alleged he  went so far as to invent evidence in order to justify the accusations in the indictment prepared by Nicolae Marin. Judge Tudoran is accused of hatching a story to prove at any cost that the land was so-called public property of the state and to nationalise again the lands that belonged to the University of Agronomic Sciences and Veterinary Medicine of Bucharest (USAMV), over which the state had no legal right of ownership.

These charges against the former judge undermine his ruling in the Popoviciu – Băneasa case completely. They also raise deeper questions about the current state of the Romanian justice system, where it would appear that both the investigation and court systems are abused.



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