European Arrest Warrant on trial: The case of Alexander Adamescu

Conservatives for Liberty have long held deep reservations about the European Arrest Warrant (EAW) on a matter of principle; injustices are inevitable because the EAW is based upon the false premise that all criminal justice systems in the EU are equal, free of corruption, and uphold similar levels of equity between the citizen and the state.  Moreover, a dangerous assumption is made that the European Convention on Human Rights is earnestly and correctly adhered to by all requesting nations. This is clearly not the case, as has been demonstrated numerous times – and none as blatantly as in the case of Alexander Adamescu.

It is personal stories that lay bare the horror of the EAW, and that is why our campaign against it will be underpinned by a campaign for justice for Alexander; a victim of political persecution at the hands of Romanian state authorities.

Alexander is a German citizen who moved to London in 2012. He is accused of alleged offenses of corruption in Romania for which his father received a sentence of four years and four months imprisonment.

Alexander Adamescu

Alexander Adamescu

An understanding of the persecution of his father, Dan Adamaescu, is essential to understanding the clear political motivations behind the EAW issued against Alex, as well as the violations of human rights that have been committed and will be committed in the future should he be extradited.

Case background: Dan Adamescu

Dan Adamescu, a German citizen and businessman, was the owner of Romania’s biggest insurer, Astra, and the leading conservative newspaper Romania Libera. Dan Adamescu (now 67), left Romania with his wife and infant son Alexander in 1979, established himself in Germany and built what was to become The Nova Group (TNG). In the 1990s he returned to Romania and acquired Astra Insurance (which became the largest insurer in the country) and the national daily newspaper Romania Libera.

Romania Libera has long held a pro-democratic editorial stance and was a major supporter of transitioning Romania into a market economy. It is a thorn in the side of the Romanian state; exposing government corruption and speaking out against the abuse of power.

It was highly critical of the Social Democratic Party, the successor organisation of the Romanian Communist Party, and the party’s last leader, Victor Ponta, who served as Prime Minister from 2012-2015. When Victor Ponta came to power in 2012 the government, the regulators and the courts launched an all-out assault on the insurance company, Astra, with the clear aim of disempowering Dan Adamescu and cutting off Romania Libera’s funding.

In late 2013 the Romanian financial regulator, ASF, embarked on a series of actions against Astra Insurance. The Adamescu family contend that the actions are politically motivated actions to punish them for the conservative and critical editorial policy of Romania Libera and to wrestle control of Astra Insurance away from them.

Dan Adamescu was accused of laundering his own money from Astra into Romania Libera and of paying bribes of €20,000 to judges. The National Anti-Corruption Department (DNA) prosecutor in the case is Danut Volintiru, a former colleague of the former prime minister Victor Ponta. The DNA relied in its indictment entirely on two very questionable prosecution witnesses. No other evidence against the Adamescus exist.

Alexander Adamescu had already left Romania for good at the time of the alleged bribery.

Presumption of guilt

From the very beginning the case has been clearly marked by political prejudice and presumption of guilt. A clear pattern of illogical decisions show that the financial regulators made a concerted effort to push Astra Insurance into bankruptcy. Public statements by judges and Victor Ponta himself accusing Adamescu directly made it obvious that a fair trial was never a possibility.

This is one of many statements made by prime minister Victor Ponta regarding Dan Adamescu, from 20th may 2014:

“Those guilty at ASF [the financial regulator] should resign. The others should not be afraid to go ahead with the case Astra – Adamescu, because that really big bomb there is that hundreds of millions of euro have been embezzled at Astra through Mr Adamescu. Now perhaps some have interpreted what is happening to Mr. Ruşanu [director of ASF], what is important is that the law should be applied and if it is true what we heard about this huge fraud then the insurance sector has to be cleaned up radically.”

In May 2014 Mr Adamescu was summoned as a suspect in the bribery case by prosecutors.  Only two days later, prime minister Victor Ponta made a public statement on television directly declaring his guilt.

On 24th May 2014 Victor Ponta appeared on television and made the following statement:

“Traian Basescu is one of the main beneficiaries of Mr Adamescu’s media support. Mr Adamescu publishes a newspaper that strongly campaigns against corruption. I think that this man, who has himself led a network of corruption to such great effect over a period of many years, presents himself as a publisher who speaks about the fight against corruption (…). I am convinced that we will shortly be hearing even more things about this from the state prosecutor’s office.”

Within the fortnight masked and armed anti-terror police raided Mr Adamescu’s home and arrested him. He was then paraded like a trophy in front of TV cameras; it became a big media show. State backed media brandished him a corrupt criminal. The DNA leaked the indictment to the press

He had been arrested for witness tampering simply for helping his finance director (subsequently a prosecution witness) to obtain a lawyer. The judge explained his decision by saying: “Dan Adamescu must be exposed to public shame” and argued that he couldn’t let Mr Adamescu free in case it gave the impression that “anybody could buy himself out of justice”. The prosecutor aggressively described Mr Adamescu as a menace to society who had to be locked up at any cost.

Judges later upheld the arrest with the following justification:

The defendants Roventa Elena, Viziru Ciprian-Sorin and Adamescu Grigore-Dan […] continue to deny committing the crimes of which they stand accused.”

Apparently, in Romania, insisting upon one’s innocence is itself a crime worthy of detention. Mr Adamaescu was continually reproached for illegal actions despite his trial having not yet begun. The DNA insisted that he was a public danger without reasonable explanation or justification.

Dan Adamescu

Dan Adamescu

Trial and sentencing

In January 2015 Dan Adamescu was convicted after a speedy show trial based on the testimony of one witness, a Mr Onute, who was shown to be contradicting himself. Defending lawyers showed that the Mr Onute’s statements were contradictory, that he was not a credible witness because he  had channelled money out of the company without permission and was a recruited DNA informer. They also showed that there was no clear motive to bribe the judges and the alleged bribe scheme was illogical.

Throughout the trial Mr Adamescu was prevented from talking by the judge and was cut short when attempting to question the prosecution witness. Likewise, the judge regularly interrupted the defendant’s lawyers as they attempted to question the prosecution witness.

Fair Trials International made Mr Adamescu’s trial a case example for their position paper on the strengthening of the presumption of innocence (page 10) of how not to breach this fundamental right of a defendant, which has clearly been breached in this case.

Dan Adamescu was sentenced to four years and four months of prison and given a very unusual additional condition clearly designed to prevent him exercising any control over Astra Insurance:

“[interdiction of] the right of being director, manager of any trading company, or of co-ordinating any trading companies, both in Romania and abroad, for a term of 3 years after executing his main punishment.”

On 27th May 2016, Dan Adamescu’s appeal at the Supreme Court was rejected and he was jailed. He has since then languished in Romania’s medieval prison system. He has been wheelchair bound and suffering from a number of serious medical conditions, including, among others, type II diabetes, ventricular fibrillation, severe knee arthritis and an eye infection that has rendered him blind in one eye due to the denial of proper treatment. He was repeatedly denied treatment for his crippling knee arthrosis despite being declared unfit for imprisonment by his German doctor.

* UPDATE: Dan Adamescu has died as a result of an infection caught in prison since this post was published – Read Ben Kelly’s Reaction article on it here.*

The political persecution of Alexander Adamescu

In the absence of his father, Alexander Adamescu had stepped in to help manage the crisis situation at Astra Insurance, making him a renewed target for prosecutors.

After Alexander sent a notice in December 2015 announcing arbitration for Romania’s breaches of international law, the DNA started criminal proceedings against Alexander for exactly the same bribery charges raised against his father.

At the beginning of March 2016 the DNA furthermore charged Dan and Alexander Adamescu with abuse of function, money laundering and complicity with abuse of function at Astra

On the same day (27th May 2016) as his father was jailed, Alexander Adamescu’s arrest warrant was validated in the same court for the same charges. Despite living in London for four years, Alexander was officially called a fugitive from justice and an arrest warrant was issued within thirty minutes on his name.

Arrest

On 13th June 2016 Alexander Adamescu was arrested in London just two hours before he was due to appear at a public event campaigning against abuse of the European Arrest Warrant.  The Romanian embassy had instructed the London Metropolitan Police to apprehend Alexander before the event to prevent his appearance. Shamefully, they did so.

Please help us raise awareness

The hearing for Alexander’s case will be held this year. A European Arrest Warrant can be rejected on the grounds that it is politically motivated and/or that the human rights of the accused have been or will be violated. Both are true in this case.

We are launching a campaign on our blog, and across our social media accounts to raise awareness in the hope that justice will prevail. Please share this overview, and our future blogs on the subject, share our Facebook posts, and retweet us. You could also write to your MP about this case.

Join Conservatives for Liberty and special guest speakers from inside and outside Parliament, including Steven Woolfe MEP and Jacob Reese-Mogg MP on 28th February as we ask the government to withdraw from the European Arrest Warrant


 

Ben is the Conservatives for Liberty Director of Online Communications.  Follow him on Twitter: @TheScepticIsle

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The views expressed in this article are that of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Conservatives for Liberty

 

 

 

 

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