Romania court postpones verdict for leader in graft trial
BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — A Romanian court said Tuesday it was postponing its verdict in the trial of the country’s most powerful politician on misconduct charges, saying it needed more time to study arguments submitted by lawyers for Liviu Dragnea, chairman of the ruling Social Democratic Party.
Prosecutors accuse Dragnea, at the time a government official, of intervening from 2008-2010 to keep two women on the payroll of a family welfare agency, even though they were employed by his party. The women have admitted working for the party although they received their salaries from the welfare agency.
Prosecutors have called for a 7-1/2-year sentence for Dragnea, who denies wrongdoing.
The High Court for Cassation and Justice said it would issue a ruling June 8.
Dragnea, who is also Parliament speaker, is barred from being premier due to a previous conviction for vote-rigging. Despite the conviction, he has a tight grip on Romania’s largest party and enjoys the support of party leaders in the provinces.
This January, he picked Viorica Dancila, a virtually unheard of European Parliament lawmaker, to be prime minister. Dragnea effectively controls the government. He has argued that since his party won parliamentary elections in Dec. 2016 it has the right to decide how the country is governed.
Dragnea, who was not obliged to be in court Tuesday, is in Switzerland.