Is #AlexanderAdamescu yet another victim of #Romania rogue intelligence services?

| May 23, 2019

As the case of Alexander Adamescu (pictured), the most high-profile example of the failings of the European Arrest Warrant (EAW) system in the UK, rumbles on, new evidence of the corruption endemic in the Romanian justice system continues to come to light, writes Emily Barley.

Adamescu has been fighting extradition from London to Romania since June 2016. He is charged with bribery, but the EAW system means that the existence (or not) of evidence against him is completely irrelevant – it is simply assumed that justice systems across the EU are of the same quality and so can be trusted without question.

It turns out that in the case of Romania this assumption is deeply flawed. Squalid prison conditions have received perhaps the most attention from the international community, having been censured by the European Court of Human Rights, the Council of Europe, the UN, and countless NGOs, including in a report for Due Process written by myself. But the problems do not start and end in prison – they stretch across the entire Romanian criminal justice system.

Since the Adamescu case began in British courts, revelation after revelation has told the story of the corruption and interference by government intelligence services running through prosecutors’ offices, law enforcement, and the judiciary.

A Romanian Parliamentary investigation revealed the existence of secret protocols between the Romanian Intelligence Service (SRI) and every single branch of the Romanian justice and law enforcement system. This was significant, not least because after the country threw off communism it banned intelligences services from interfering in the judiciary. In January of this year the Romanian constitutional court ruled these secret protocols ‘unconstitutional’, leading to a major crisis as observers began to understand the full extent of interference in the justice system.

This has raised serious questions over the fairness of trials and the safety of convictions, leading to calls for reviews of cases and retrials where there was illegal intelligence service involvement.

Only a minority of the secret protocols between the SRI and other agencies have so far been published, but just these few show a shocking level of interference in the criminal justice process, from illegal wiretaps to exerting pressure on judges to make particular decisions. SRI activities have included planting evidence, falsifying witness statements and blackmailing witnesses. Concern has also been fuelled by comments from the legal director of the SRI, General Dumitru Dumbrava, in which he called the courts a ‘tactical field’.

In January of this year, Ovidiu Putura, a former Romanian judge and Secretary of State at the Ministry of Justice, revealed that the SRI had specified in advance who should be targeted for prosecution and even the sentences that they should receive. He described General Dumbrava putting pressure on judges directly, asking them to pass certain key decisions, and claimed that anyone in an important position in Romanian society was routinely wiretapped.

A myriad of organisations and individuals have raised concerns about this manipulation and what it means for people facing trial in Romania. For example, MEDEL (European Magistrates for Democracy and Liberty), an association of judges, said that SRI involvement means there are ‘serious doubts’ about trials being ‘fair and just’.

It is difficult to disagree with this conclusion. Indeed, some judges have already risked retribution from the state secret services by acquitting people accused of corruption in cases marred by collusion between the SRI and DNA (National Anti-corruption Directorate).

Adamescu has long alleged that the security services are involved in the case against him, pointing to the murky activities of the Romanian state which have been compared to the Securitate (communist secret police). This activity has spread to the streets of London, with allegations of Adamescu’s partner being followed by Romanian speaking men using walkie-talkies, and a kidnap attempt.

Though we cannot know for sure if Adamescu is an SRI target, we do now know that the type of activities he alleges are well within the realms of what that organisation has been proven to have been involved in over many years, targeting similar people with similar charges.

We also know that Adamescu and his family’s claims of SRI involvement pre-date this proof – starting in 2014 with the prosecution of his father Dan Adamescu, who subsequently died after being refused medical treatment while languishing in a Romanian prison – showing that Adamescu is not merely jumping on a bandwagon.

The implications of Romania’s descent into corruption and illegal intelligence activities are important. This growing body of evidence undermines the very foundation of the EAW system – parity of justice – and necessitates an urgent review of the extradition process. Romania is currently the President of the Council of the European Union, a position it is wholly unfit to hold. Until it deals decisively with its rogue intelligence services, it cannot be trusted as a full EU member state. The Adamescu case demonstrates the danger of countries closing their eyes to the abuses being meted out by the Romanian state for the sake of EU ‘solidarity’. They will live to regret it when Romanian injustice arrives at their doorstep too.

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