Minister of Interior: fugitive businessman and former lawmaker Sebastian Ghita was being held at the Belgrade Police headquarters
Romanian Minister of Interior Carmen Dan confirmed on Friday that fugitive businessman and former lawmaker Sebastian Ghita was being held at the Belgrade Police headquarters, where "Serbian authorities conduct specific procedures."
"I can confirm that Sebastian Ghita is currently held at the Belgrade Police headquarters, where Serbian authorities carry out the due procedures. Last night Ghita and his brother were stopped by Serbian police for an ID check. While his brother presented authentic documents, Ghita produced fake ID papers. The procedure was carried out based on intelligence provided by the Romanian police," IntMin Carmen Dan told Romania TV broadcaster, adding that Sebastian Ghita's brother is probably still in Serbia, but that "Sebastian Ghita was the actual object of the hunt."
The extradition procedure will be next, as soon as the Serbian state completes the specific procedures; the Ministry of Justice and the Romanian Police will take the necessary steps to accompany Ghita to Romania, Carmen Dan said, making it also clear that this is the accomplishment of a seamless inland and international institutional cooperation, during which all information has been minutely checked. She went on to say that since he presented on Serbian soil false documents - ostensibly issued by a EU state - the Serbian authorities will probably open a criminal case against Ghita for use of forged papers.
Businessman and former MP Sebastian Ghita was tracked down and nabbed by Belgrade policemen on Thursday night, as a result of complex investigative activities and the information provided by the Special Operations Division and Criminal Investigations Directorate of the Romanian Police. On January 5 a Supreme Court panel of justices ordered Ghita's arrest in abstentia, after he skipped two appearances under supervised bail in a case where he faces charges of influence peddling, money laundering and setting up an organised crime group.
Extradition from Serbia may be requested under the European Convention on Extradition, signed on December 13, 1957 in Paris and its additional protocols, signed in Strasbourg on October 15, 1975 and March 17, 1978 and ratified by Romania under Law 80/1997, the Justice Ministry reported on Friday.
The ministry's statement came after former MP Sebastian Ghita was tracked down and detained by the Police in Belgrade on Thursday night.
"Extradition is regulated under Title II, Chapter II of Law 302/2004 concerning cooperation in extradition and judicial assistance in criminal matters, as subsequently amended, supplemented and recast. Extradition from Serbia may be requested under the European Convention on Extradition, signed on December 13, 1957 in Paris and its additional protocols, signed in Strasbourg on October 15, 1975 and March 17, 1978 and ratified by Romania under Law 80/1997," the ministry says in a press statement.
In this case, extradition is special because it regards an intentionally wanted person who has taken refuge in another county with the intent of eschewing criminal prosecution, standing trial or serving a court sentence.
The ministry is entitled to request the extradition from a foreign country of an internationally wanted person whose localisation in that country or apprehension for extradition from the requested state has been confirmed.
"Under Article 66 in Law 302/2004, as soon as the court issuing the pre-trial warrant is informed about the localisation in a foreign country of an internationally wanted person or wanted by Romania's judiciary authorities, it shall establish under a reasoned resolution whether or not the legal requirements are met for the request of extradition. The Justice Ministry shall fulfill its legal duties under the law after receiving a final court resolution accompanied by the relevant documents and the applicable international instruments," the statement says.
The ministry says that extradition applications are dealt with under the legislation of the required state.
Ploiesti Court of Appeal dismissed, on April 3, the appeal filed by former deputy Sebastian Ghita towards Prahova Court decision to issue a new arrest warrant in his name.
The court ordered the provisional detention of Sebastian Ghita for setting up an organised crime group. According to the decision posted on the courts' portal, the magistrates rejected the former deputy's appeal as groundless.
The court also upheld the National Anti-corruption Directorate (DNA) prosecutors' appeal and disposed Ghita's 30-day provisional detention for setting up an organised crime group, calculated from the enforcement date of the detention warrant.
On March 15, Prahova Court issued an arrest warrant on former deputy Sebastian Ghita's name in the case in which he is being investigated by DNA Ploiesti for influence peddling, money laundering and setting up an organised crime group. According to the court's reasoning, the judge of peace of Prahova Court held that there is reasonable suspicion that Sebastian Ghita committed seven of the eight offenses for which DNA Ploiesti prosecutors have set in motion the criminal action towards the defendant.
"The judge of rights and freedoms appreciates in the sense that, from the rules of evidence during the Public Ministry's prosecution, there is reasonable suspicion that the defendant perpetrated 7 (seven) of the eight (8) offenses for which the criminal action was set in motion, respectively 4 (four) crime of influence peddling and 3 (three) money laundering offenses. As regards the setting up of an organised crime group (...) the judge of rights and freedoms reasons that there is insufficient evidence to dispose of the provisional detention measure, the most severe of the preventive measures provided for in the Criminal Procedure Code," the document states.
According to the source, certain aspects of the organised crime group creation have not been clarified yet.
"Although there are suspicions this crime was perpetrated, several aspects regarding the criminal participation, the role within the organised crime group, its structure etc. have not been clarified yet, so that provisional detention cannot be also ruled for perpetrating this crime. As concerns the 4 (four) offenses of influence peddling and 3 (three) crimes of money laundering, the judge of rights and freedoms considers that there is reasonable suspicion that the defendant perpetrated these offenses," further shows the explanatory statement.
On January 5, a panel of the Supreme Court (ICCJ) issued an arrest warrant in absentia in the name of Sebastian Ghita after he disappeared and never showed up at IPJ Prahova, violating the terms of the judicial control in the case in which he was sent to court with ex-chiefs of police and prosecutors' offices.