Supreme Court Released a Former Prosecutor Caught with Bribery

Supreme Court Released a Former Prosecutor Caught with Bribery
19 August 2020 | 06:07

After the Bălți Court of Appeal sentenced the former prosecutor Corneliu Gheras to seven years in prison, the Supreme court of Justice released the former prosecutor from custody, sending his case for retrial. Gheras was detained in March 2017 after claiming over 1,000 euros (20,000 lei) from a man under criminal investigation for allegedly stealing a mobile phone. The state accuser was caught red-handed after he received the last tranche, worth over 250 euros (5,000 lei).

On February 21, 2017, Eduard Harunjen, Moldova’s Prosecutor General, opened a criminal investigation against Gheras, who was accused of passive corruption. One month later, Gheras was charged with claiming and receiving 1,000 euros (20,000 lei) in exchange for the termination of the criminal investigation of a man accused of allegedly stealing a mobile phone. On March 30, 2017, the Superior Council of Prosecutors suspended Gheras from office. 

In December 2017, the first instance, the Edineț Court, acquitted Gheras. The judges concluded that the defendant’s guilt in committing the incriminated crime has not been confirmed and that his deed does not meet the elements of the crime. 

In November 2019, however, the judges of the Bălți Court of Appeal quashed the sentence of the first instance, sentencing Gheras to seven years in prison, a fine of 20,000 euros (40,000 lei), depriving him of the right to hold prosecutor’s office positions for a period of 10 years. Gheras was supposed to serve his sentence in a closed prison. The decision of Bălți Court of Appeal was enforceable, so Gheras was arrested right in the courtroom. In November 2019, the General Prosecutor’s Office reported this fact in a press release.

Meanwhile, in May 2020, a panel of judges from the Supreme Court of Justice cancelled the decision of the Bălți Court of Appeal. The Supreme Court of Justice ordered the release of Gheras from custody and sent the case to the retrial at the Bălți Court of Appeal but in another trial panel. 

The judges from the Supreme Court of Justice found that the first instance and the appellate court committed errors, which do not allow the taking of conclusions of the first instance (the sentence containing contradictory reasoning) or of the appellate court (the solution adopted is not motivated), and which cannot be removed by the reviewing court.

“In the retrial of the case, the appellate court shall be guided by the provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure. The Code provides for the retrial procedure and its limits to rule properly and in strict accordance with the provisions of the procedural-criminal law on all grounds invoked in the appeal, to verify and deeply assess the evidence administered and examined by the court in strict accordance with the requirements of the law, to give due consideration with the argumentation of the admissibility or inadmissibility of each evidence examined, to clarify the facts important for the fair and prompt resolution of the case, to consider in detail the aspects of the accusation against Gheras, to properly consider the presence or absence of his guilt in the commission of the alleged offense, taking into account the reasons set out in this decision and the reasons given in the appeals, and as a result to issue a legal and justified decision that complies with the provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure,” stated the judges from the Supreme Court of Justice in their decision.

On December 1, 2017, the Discipline and Ethics College dismissed Gheras from the prosecutor position in Edineț district, the north of Moldova. According to the decision, the prosecutor had violated ethical and legal norms after receiving 1,000 euros (20,000 lei) from a man in a criminal case managed by the state accuser. Then, the prosecutor voluntarily handed over the money, and in the criminal investigation, he partially admitted his guilt. Later, however, he challenged the Discipline College’s decision in court. In October 2018, the Supreme Court of Justice rejected his request, finding that the dismissal of the prosecutor took place in compliance with the law.

According to the magistrat.md website, Gheras has been working in the prosecutor’s office for almost 20 years, being appointed in 1998. He has been working throughout his career at the Edineț Prosecutor’s Office.

In 2013, Gheras was pardoned by the Disciplinary Board attached to the Superior Council of Prosecutors. Gheras was found guilty of improper performance of duties. Two years later, however, another disciplinary proceeding was instituted on Gheras’ behalf, and he was found guilty of admitting several abusive violations of legal provisions, such as improper assessment of the circumstances of the case, committing several errors of law.

AUTHOR MAIL

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