Elena Udrea, the former Romanian minister of tourism, and Alina Bica, former chief prosecutor of the Romanian Directorate for Investigating Organised Crime and Terrorism (DIICOT), were arrested in Costa Rica, Romanian police said yesterday.
Both women were detained in the street by the Interpol National Office in Costa Rica on the back of a red alert for their arrest that was included in the Interpol database.
Elena Udrea is accused of bribery and abuse of power. The High Court of Cassation and Justice sentenced her to six years in prison and a fine of 3 million euros in compensation in the case known as “Gala Bute” in which she is accused of illegally using public funds to finance a boxing gala in 2011. Former organised crime chief prosecutor Bica, 44, was also handed a four-year jail sentence at the end of July for bribery and abuse of office in a real estate transaction in 2011 that was over-evaluated by 62 million euros.
The two women can not be extradited immediately, but preventive measures could be taken until the authorities in charge of migration decide whether or not they will grant them refugee status, as they requested, reported Romanian media.
Udrea has been in Costa Rica since February of this year and gave birth to a baby girl on September 20th. Elena Udrea’s lawyer, Veronel Rădulescu, said in September that the court would take into account the fact that the former minister had a young child, who can not be separated from her mother. Because the child has Costa Rican citizenship, the court will not decide on extradition, he said. In April, one of Udrea’s lawyers announced that she had been granted political refugee status.
According to Balkan Insight, Costa Rica does has not have an extradition treaty with Romania, and the Romanian authorities have been seeking a legal basis for extradition.