EXCLUSIVE: Trigger Happy on European Arrest Warrant Use, Romania Prepares For Key EU Role

Romania is scheduled to take on the rotating presidency of the European Union in 2019 despite the bloc’s criticisms of its alleged abuses of the controversial European Arrest Warrant (EAW).

Introduced by the EU in 2004, it permits any EU country to issue an arrest warrant to another EU country; many lawmakers have argued the EAW is “fundamentally flawed” and needs significant reform.

The EAW has been abused in the past. In November, Spain’s prosecutor called for the controversial law to be used against Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont and four members of his government after they refused to appear in court over accusations of the misappropriation of public funds, rebellion, and sedition. Puigdemont reportedly said the charge was politically motivated.

Brexit, the historic referendum during which the United Kingdom voted to leave the EU, would stop the country and its inhabitants from being subjected to this law. While the UK voted successfully to leave the EU, the details of the withdrawal have yet to be finalised, which leaves British citizens vulnerable to the European Arrest Warrant.

Last year, Gabriel Popoviciu, a Romanian businessman who fled the country for England as a fugitive, was sentenced to seven years in prison for real estate fraud. He was detained in London and reportedly turned himself in after Romanian police tracked him down there.

There are several of these cases in Romania. Human Rights Without Frontiers wrote that “Romania is one of the countries that is problematic” when it comes to EAWs and noted that “such circumstances put the unifying judicial system in Europe at grave risk”.

Last year, the European Court of Human Rights blasted Romania for its dismal prison conditions, calling them inhumane and degrading for overcrowded jail cells, unhygienic sanitary conditions, poor food, and being infested with rats and insects.

Under the European Convention on Human Rights, said conditions are forbidden.

The court reportedly said these poor conditions are “part of a general problem originating in a structural dysfunction specific to the Romanian prison system”.

The overcrowding and poor conditions in Romanian prisons resulted in the release of thousands of inmates last year, which reportedly included murderers, rapists, and pedophiles.

The Romanian government, to its credit, is working to crack down on corrupt individuals; however, many innocent individuals have seemingly gotten caught up in the process, which has sometimes been politicised.

One of the most prominent cases of this abuse of EAWs is perhaps that of Alexander Adamescu, the son of the late Romanian businessman, founder of the Nova Group, and of România Liberă, an independent Romanian newspaper, Dan Adamescu.

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România Liberă covered the U.S. presidential elections in 2016 and has covered Trump’s presidency since then. It published several articles that were favourable towards then-candidate Trump; a view that is rare in Romania where the mainstream media was against the billionaire real estate tycoon. Dan Adamescu also believed in Trump.

Dan Adamescu was arrested in 2016 and sentenced to four years and four months in prison for allegedly bribing judges at insolvency trials related to his companies. He died under house arrest in January 2017. However, Alexander Adamescu believes his father was targeted by the Romanian government for supporting a candidate that was opposed to the socialist president.

Now, Alexander faces a similar fate.

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Alexander has no formal relations with Romania except for the fact that his father lived there and România Liberă is there. He has been living in the United Kingdom since 2012 working as a playwright and is a German citizen with Jewish roots.

Adamescu believes Romania’s government has attacked the newspaper and today is trying to wrestle it away from the family in an attempt to nationalise it, which has all the makings of Communism returning to Romania.

Alexander has made the case through international arbitration that the family businesses should be the family’s and not the Romanian government’s.

The Romanian government has realised that the only way it can shut down the arbitration was to extradite Alexander as to ensure there is no one to represent the Adamescu family in court, and to quash the international arbitration between them.

One of the family businesses that the Romanian government took away from the family, was Astra Insurance. Reuters reported that since the government has taken the business away from the family, the company has gone bankrupt.

According to Alexander’s wife, 50,000 jobs were lost when the Romanian government took the company away from the Adamescu family. The company had 300 branches in Romania and was also operating in Hungary, Bratislava and Germany and grossed approximately 270 million Euros a year in revenue.

Romania-Insider reported that Romania’s Financial Supervisory Authority (ASF) “arbitrarily blocked the group’s efforts to recapitalize Astra Asigurari and that the National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA) abusively froze the group’s assets”.

A website named “Friends of Alexander Adamescu” has been created to help Alexander raise enough signatures to get him released from a prison in England and escape extradition at the hands of Romania’s government. The Romanian government is now trying to extradite Alexander to the country to prevent him from retaliating over its attempts to take over the family business.

“His crime was to challenge the Romanian state — for Romania’s mistreatment of his father, for the economic raid on the businesses his father built, and as an owner of the country’s independent România Liberă newspaper,” the website writes.

Although Alexander is not a Romanian citizen, the European Arrest Warrant allows any country to issue an arrest warrant for any country in the EU.

Alexander’s wife also said the Romanian judge who was assigned to Alexander’s case, and who issued a European Arrest Warrant against him, spent just 30 minutes reviewing his case file, which included more than 37 folders of documents.

It is possible that Romania is violating the internationally-recognised Magnitsky Act with their extradition attempt on Adamescu. Should the extradition request come to fruition, Alexander may face the same fate as his late father Dan.

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