The Authorities Issue Fines and the Courts Cancel Them
The authorities claim that they imposed more than a thousand fines on individuals and companies for non-compliance with measures to prevent or combat epidemic disease. However, the courts keep canceling the fines issued by the police. ZdG analyzed several cases where the authorities applied fines to people and companies. However, the policeman doesn’t attend the court hearing and the judges conclude that they did not provide evidence to prove the guilt of the person who was fined. In other cases, judges conclude that the tickets were issued in breach of the law.
ZdG offers you six cases in which the persons and companies challenged the fines issued by the police and won the case.
In the first case, the policeman fined a man who stopped at the playground while returning from a store. The policeman fined him with over 1,000 euros (22,500 lei). According to the policeman, the man did not comply with the measures aiming to control the spread of the COVID-19 virus. The man challenged the decision in front of the court. However, the policeman didn’t come to the court hearing, and he also did not request the postponement of the examination of the case for another date. Moreover, he requested the court to examine the case in his absence.
The court decided to cancel the man’s fine, stating that no evidence had been brought to prove his guilt. The court also established that there were no witnesses to confirm that he violated the measures against the COVID-19 virus.
In the second case, the policeman fined a young woman for passing through a park while going to a store. The fine was also over 1,000 euros (22,500 lei). As in the previous case, the policeman fined the woman for violating the measures issued to prevent and control the COVID-19 epidemic in the country.
The woman mentioned that she went to the store and to avoid the risk of infection she walked to the store through a park. As in the first case, the policeman didn’t appear in the court hearing. Although the court notified the inspector about the place, date, and time of the court hearing, by telephone, the inspector did not request the postponement of the examination of the case for another date but requested the examination cause in his absence.
The court stated that the policeman took an unfounded and arbitrary decision, canceling the ticket issued by the policeman.
The court considered it possible to examine the case in the absence of the finding agent and decided, on 8 April 2020, to annul this report, respectively, and the fine applied. In this case, as previously, there was no evidence to prove that the woman is guilty of violating the measures taken against the COVID-19 epidemic. As in the previous case, there was no witness who could confirm that the woman violated the measures issued by the Commission for Exceptional Situations.
In the third case, the mayor of Sângerei, north of Moldova, received a fine for joining the liturgy performed by two priests. According to the policeman, the mayor didn’t comply with the measures of control of the epidemic disease by joining the liturgy performed by two priests, creating a group of more than three people.
In court, the mayor claimed that the ticket was issued in violation of the law. Although the policeman insisted everything is good, the court, once again, canceled the fine. According to the court, the policeman violated the law while issuing the ticket. The court claimed that the policeman described incorrectly the contravention deed and omitted the legal classification of the deed, the material contravention norm and the qualifying indications of the constitutive elements of the contravention.
The court also specified that the policeman did not clearly formulate the accusation brought against the offender in order for the latter to be able to prepare the defense, thus restricting his right to defense guaranteed by both national and international law.
In the fourth case, the policeman issued a fine to a woman who was selling fish. The fine was also over 1,000 euros (22,500 lei). The policeman claimed that the customers weren’t warned to respect social distancing and to wear gloves and masks.
The woman challenged the decision stating that the policeman didn’t specify which actions endangered the public health and the potential danger. She mentioned that there was a paper informing people to respect social distancing and the seller was equipped with the necessary equipment. As in the previous case, the court claimed that while issuing the ticket the policeman violated the law. According to the court decision, the policeman provided unclear information.
In the fifth case, the policeman fined a company for selling coffee. The fine was over 2,500 euros (50,000 lei). The company was accused of failing to comply with the measures of prophylaxis, prevention, and control of epidemic diseases, endangering public health. The company challenged the decision. However, the policeman didn’t appear in the court hearing. And the court decided that the ticket was issued in violation of the law and overturned the fine.
In the sixth case, the policeman fined a company for selling animal food. The fine was over 3,000 euros (62,500 lei). The policeman claimed that the company did not comply with the measures taken in the fight against the coronavirus. The court canceled the fine.
The Minister of Internal Affairs, Pavel Voicu, announced that the police issued over a 1,000 fines to people and companies, who violated the rules and prohibitions imposed during the state of emergency. However, the Minister did not say how many of these fines reached the budget, following their application.
“We have 54 companies who did not comply with the law and contravention lawsuits were initiated against them. The police collaborators monitored over 155,000 people who were in self-isolation, and this number changes from one hour to another,” the minister declared during a press conference.
According to Voicu, from March 17 until now, about 1,800 people called at 112 informing the authorities about certain cases in which people have not complied with the self-isolation regime.
Thus, 1,132 contravention lawsuits were initiated against people. Requested by ZdG, the Ministry of Internal Affairs representatives specified that the police applied fines amounting to approximately €1.3 million (26 million lei).
However, there is no information on how much money reached the state budget so far from the application of these fines.
On March 12, the Parliament approved amendments to the Criminal Code. The Parliament tightened the penalties for non-compliance with measures for the prevention, and control of epidemic diseases.
Thus, persons who will not comply with measures to prevent or combat epidemic diseases and will cause the spread of the disease will be punished (maximum punishment) with a fine of up to 1000 conventional units over 2,500 euros (up to 50,000 lei) or imprisonment for up to 3 years. The same acts that recklessly caused serious or moderate injury to the person’s health or death will be punished (maximum punishment) with imprisonment of up to 7 years, instead of 5 years as provided by the law.
The contravention code was supplemented with a new article, entitled ” Failure to comply with measures for the prevention, and control of epidemic diseases.”
According to the new article, non-compliance with measures for the prevention or control of epidemic diseases will be sanctioned with a fine from over 1,000 euros (22,500 lei to 25,000 lei) while the companies will be fined with over 2,500 euros (50,000 lei at 75,000 lei). At the same time, giving intentionally false or incomplete data or the refusal to present the data necessary to complete the epidemiological file will be sanctioned with a fine from 450 to 500 conventional units.
Last week, two deputies from the opposition parties filed appeals to the Constitutional Court asking for the fines to be canceled.