The Romanian Supreme Court has upheld a request by the National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA) to issue an arrest warrant in absentia for the former mayor of Constanţa, Radu Mazare, after he violated the terms of a judicial order by fleeing to Madagascar.
The arrest warrant for Mazare states that the investigation is related to the illegal construction of a luxury apartment complex in the Mamaia beach resort on the Black Sea. He was subsequently charged with abuse of office as mayor for giving the project the green light in 2012.
The former mayor failed to appear at the Constanţa Police Station as required by a judicial order because he fled to Madagascar, where he said he was taking steps to obtain political asylum. In a letter addressed to “all interested Romanian authorities”, he said he was seeking political asylum in Madagascar because he was “a political target of the parallel state [in Romania]”, where he had “chance to benefit from fair, independent, objective and impartial justice.”
Prosecutors say there is enough evidence to suspect that Radu Mazare has been hiding in order to escape from his trial for abuse of office and that his being in Madagascar poses a serious risk that he will escape criminal liability.”
Five other Constanţa City Hall officials have also been accused of abuse of office in relation to the case, including the then deputy mayor Decebal Fagadau who issued a new permit for the same building the following year in 2013.
Radu Mazare cut a colourful and controversial figure during his 15 years as mayor of the ancient Black Sea port of Constanţa. Known for throwing flamboyant fancy-dress parties and posing on the cover of Playboy magazine, he has also been the subject of several corruption allegations. In 2012 he opened a kitesurfing resort in Madagascar that prosecutors in a different corruption case allege was paid for in part with money he received as a bribe in return for facilitating a 10 million euro housing scheme in Constanţa .
Last year, Mazare was found guilty, along with 36 other Constanţa City Hall officials of illegally selling state-owned beaches and sea-front property to acquaintances. He received a four-year suspended sentence for his role in the criminal enterprise that cost the Romanian state some 130 million euros.