Romania’s Constitutional Court has struck down draft amendments to the criminal code that would have shut down numerous corruption cases.
According to the Court the amendments adopted in April do not take into account rulings that it had previously issued and therefore the reform must return to Parliament for review.
The changes introduced in the criminal code are among crucial elements of the justice system reform initiated by the Social Democratic Government since it came to power in January 2017.
Included among the proposed reforms are plans to reduce criminal sentences for corruption, abolish the crime of negligence in service, and alter the definition of trafficking in influence, as well as the definition of an organised crime group.
Critics argue that the measures are intended to benefit politicians including Liviu Dragnea, sentenced in 2016 to a two-year suspended sentence for electoral fraud, a sentence that prevented him from taking up the post of Prime Minister. In May, Dragnea began serving a three-and-a-half-year jail term after he was found guilty on separate charges of procuring fake jobs for two party members at a state agency.
According to the government the judicial reform and the relaxation of the penal code are simply intended to correct the “abuses” of the judges who they accuse of forming a “parallel state”.
Brussels had threatened to suspend Romania’s right to vote in the European Union as a punishment for these reforms, which according to the EC reversed the progress made in anti-corruption matters in recent years and undermined the independence of the judiciary.
The reforms have been highly unpopular with Romanian who have turned in their millions to protest the against them over the past 2 years.
This discontent was reflected in May’s European Parliament elections in which the PSD suffered its worst ever results, losing more than 20 percent of its previous vote, while their governing coalition partners ALDE received less than the 5 percent threshold, leaving them with zero MEPs.