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Romanian Lawmakers Vote To Abolish Disputed Special Court

The former leader of the Social Democratic Party, Liviu Dragnea, was imprisoned on corruption charges.

BUCHAREST -- Romania’s lawmakers have voted to scrap a special court established in 2018 to investigate magistrates and prosecutors suspected of corruption.

The Chamber of Deputies adopted the bill dismantling the court on March 24, with 171 votes in favor and 136 against.

The bill, which was pushed forward by the ruling coalition led by the National Liberal Party (PNL), will now go to the Senate where the ruling coalition also has a majority.

The special court was criticized by civil society organizations, the United States, and the European Commission as a means to intimidate judges.

The tribunal was established under the government of the Social Democratic Party (PSD), which ended in a vote of no-confidence in 2019 while its former leader, Liviu Dragnea, was imprisoned on corruption charges.

Now in opposition, the PSD said it would appeal the dismantling of the tribunal before the Constitutional Court.

The March 24 vote did not fully satisfy critics of the court either.

A provision of the proposed law says that the Superior Council of the Magistrature, composed of representatives of the judges, must give a green light before a magistrate is sent to trial.

In an open letter published this week, hundreds of Romanian judges warned that the provision in question could “sabotage the fight against corruption as much as the existence” of the court itself.

With reporting by Balkan Insight
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    RFE/RL's Romanian Service

    After a decade-long closure, RFE/RL's Romanian Service relaunched in 2019 on digital platforms to help address declining media independence in Romania and the spread of disinformation.