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Romania’s ruling party supports 2 ministers in graft probe

September 25, 2017 GMT
In this photo taken on Jan. 4, 2017, Romanian Deputy Premier Sevil Shhaideh attends a parliament session in Bucharest, Romania. Romanian anti-corruption prosecutors have initiated a criminal inquiry against a deputy prime minister on suspicion of abuse of office in a land transfer probe, saying in a statement Friday, Sept. 22, 2017, that in 2013 Sevil Shhaideh, at the time was a state secretary in the regional development ministry, allegedly aided the transfer of 324 hectares (800 acres) of land near the River Danube, to a local council county which then illegally leased it to a private company.(AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)
In this photo taken on Jan. 4, 2017, Romanian Deputy Premier Sevil Shhaideh attends a parliament session in Bucharest, Romania. Romanian anti-corruption prosecutors have initiated a criminal inquiry against a deputy prime minister on suspicion of abuse of office in a land transfer probe, saying in a statement Friday, Sept. 22, 2017, that in 2013 Sevil Shhaideh, at the time was a state secretary in the regional development ministry, allegedly aided the transfer of 324 hectares (800 acres) of land near the River Danube, to a local council county which then illegally leased it to a private company.(AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)
In this photo taken on Jan. 4, 2017, Romanian Deputy Premier Sevil Shhaideh attends a parliament session in Bucharest, Romania. Romanian anti-corruption prosecutors have initiated a criminal inquiry against a deputy prime minister on suspicion of abuse of office in a land transfer probe, saying in a statement Friday, Sept. 22, 2017, that in 2013 Sevil Shhaideh, at the time was a state secretary in the regional development ministry, allegedly aided the transfer of 324 hectares (800 acres) of land near the River Danube, to a local council county which then illegally leased it to a private company.(AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — Romania’s ruling party on Monday backed two ministers who have been named in a criminal inquiry into allegations of abuse of office during a land transfer.

A spokesman for the ruling Social Democratic Party Ioan Munteanu said party members met and concluded that the pair “respected the provisions of the law.” He said the party had asked the ministers not to resign.

Prosecutors said last week that, in 2013, Deputy Prime Minister Sevil Shhaideh allegedly aided in the transfer of 324 hectares (800 acres) of land near the River Danube to a local council, which then illegally leased it to a private company. Shhaidehth was a state secretary in the regional development ministry at the time.

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Prosecutors will ask Parliament to approve the investigation of Rovana Plumb, who at the time was environment minister, in the same case. It also named four other officials in the probe. Plumb, currently the minister for European funds, denied wrongdoing.

Ahead of the meeting, party leader Liviu Dragnea called the probe “an attack on the government” and his party by anti-corruption prosecutors.

Shhaideh is an ally of Dragnea, who can’t be prime minister due to a conviction in 2016 for vote-rigging.