Liviu Dragnea, leader of Romania’s ruling party, the PSD, was back in court today answering to charges of corruption. The prosecution claims that Dragnea instructed Gheorghe Nicusor – the then Director of Administration in Dragnea’s home county, Teleorman – to employ two PSD members (Anisa-Niculina Stoica and Adriana Botorogeanu) on very healthy salaries at the county’s Child Protection Department. Both of the jobs were entirely fictitious, although the salaries weren’t.
At today’s hearing Nicusor, Stoica and Botorogeanu all admitted that they were guilty and have asked for what is known in Romania as a ‘simplified trial’: a kind of plea bargain. Dragnea maintained his innocence, and has asked for new witnesses to be questioned (little more than a delaying tactic).
Alas for the PSD boss, he does now rather look bang to rights. The clock is ticking: he needs abuse of office to be decriminalised pronto. Remember: he is already serving a suspended sentence for rigging an election. Any kind of new conviction sees him go away for quite some time. No wonder there are huge rifts opening up in the ruling party, as it’s clear that there are some members of the party who are not prepared to sacrifice everything for their Dear Leader.