Prince Paul of Romania
7 January 2021.
Paul-Phillipe al Romaniei, also known as Prince Paul of Romania, the grandson of King Carol II of Romania, has been sentenced 40-month jail in a corruption case. Prince Paul sold 28 hectares of the former Royal Farm, and 47 hectares of forest in Snagov in 2007 and 2008. Prince Paul had sold the rights for the two land plots to Israeli diamond tycoon Beny Steinmetz and his associates in 2006.
Prosecution claimed that the prince had no right to the land at the time of the sale. He was officially recognized as a legal heir of King Carol II much later in 2012. This is a problem of transition from monarchy to democracy.
The High Court also ruled a five-year sentence in absentia for Israeli businessman Beny Steinmetz. Steinmetz also faces a trial in Switzerland for allegedly paying $ 10 million in bribes to a wife of Guinea’s late president Lansana Conte for mining contracts in the country.
Prince Paul’s father was the elder son of King Carol II of Romania. His grandfather King Ferdinand forced the annulment of his parents’ marriage in January 1919 in the Supreme Court of Romania and Carol was born outside the 300-day period allowed to permit legitimacy, on January 8, 1920. Because of this neither Prince Paul nor his father were recognized as members of Romania’s Royal Family. In 1955, a court in Lisbon ruled that Paul’s father was the legitimate son of King Carol II but Romanian courts did not recognize this verdict for many years.
After years of lawsuits, in January 2012, Romania’s High Court officially recognized Paul as an heir of King Carol II, based on the Lisbon ruling, allowing him to claim part of the Royal Family’s fortune.
Paul fled the country and is now living in Portugal as a fugitive.
Romanian businessman Remus Truica, a former cabinet director of prime minister Adrian Nastase, was sentenced to 7 years in prison. Tal Silberstein, former political consultant of PM Nastase and PM Calin Popescu Tăriceanu, was sentenced to 5 years in jail. Journalist Dan Andronic was given a suspended sentence of three years. Lawyer Robert Rosu was sentenced to 5 years in prison.
Dozens of Romanian lawyers protested the High Court’s above rulings. The lawyer was sentenced for his involvement in sealing the contract. But the bar association claims that the lawyer merely fulfilled his duties as a lawyer, representing his client. National Union of Romanian Bar Associations, condemning the sentence stated that the verdict creates fear in the exercise of the profession.
Two of former associates of prime minister Adrian Nastase were sentenced as shown above. Nastase himself was sentenced to two years in prison in July 2012 and was released in March 2013. In January 2014 he was again sentenced to four years in another case but released that August.
The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) determined that Romania violates the right to a fair trial and accounts for many other lapses in judicial process. The ruling Social Democratic Party, PSD, has been making sweeping legal reforms since mid-2016 aimed more at curbing the independence of courts than protecting the rights of ordinary citizens.