Mayor and deputy mayor of Csíkszereda acquitted of all corruption charges

The Marosvásárhely (Târgu Mureş) Court of Appeals acquitted on Wednesday the outgoing mayor of Csíkszereda (Miercurea-Ciuc), Róbert Ráduly, and his deputy mayor, Domokos Szőke, of all charges brought up against them by the National Anticorruption Directorate (otherwise known by its Romanian acronym DNA). The Marosvásárhely Court of Appeals rejected the DNA’s appeal against the previous decision of the court of first instance, which was also in favor of the defendants, the Hungarian News Agency reported.

Róbert Ráduly was indicted in June 2015 by the DNA on three counts of abuse of power as well as for an alleged conflict of interest. The vice-mayor was accused of four counts of abuse of power and instigation of others to forge documents.

The lawsuit of the two Szekler leaders was initially supposed to go to trial at the territorially competent Hargita County Court. At the request of the DNA’s prosecutors, their case was transferred to the Maros County Court, which acquitted them of all the charges. This verdict has been reinforced by the ruling of the Marosvásárhely Court of Appeals this Wednesday, which is now legally binding.

The DNA had ordered a search at the homes of Ráduly and Szőke, which was conducted on April 29, 2015. On that day, both of them were taken into custody. After their release, the prosecutors of the DNA asked for a court order imposing a two-month house arrest on both men, who were also suspended from office. On the day of the DNA’s operation, the Agerpres and the Mediafax news agencies published a long list of suspicions held against the two town leaders, citing sources from the prosecution. Among the insinuations, the most serious was that Róbert Ráduly had accepted a bribe of about EUR 10,000 from the company operating the city’s parking system.

Interestingly enough, a day later, in the official communiqué of the DNA, there was no mention of this, and the number of the alleged counts diminished further up until the indictment of the suspects.

One of the charges formulated was that Mayor Ráduly had abused his authority by issuing a construction permit for the renovation, including thermal insulation, of the Csíkszereda building of the Sapientia Hungarian University of Transylvania “with no regard to the provisions for the protection of monuments.”

It seems that the permit for the protection of a monument was needed because an Orthodox church functions near the university. Another indictment involved both Ráduly and Szőke, saying they used a vehicle belonging to the city hall for private purposes. As the deputy mayor told MTI, he had hoped all along that the court would dismiss the charges against them as unfounded, but during the five and a half years that their trial lasted, he realized that “anything could happen.” Szőke also added that he could not exercise his duties for 11 months because of the court order, but many of Csíkszereda’s citizens expressed their solidarity toward both men, which gave him more strength.

Following the indictment, Mayor Ráduly quit his office, but in the 2016 municipal elections, he was reelected again. He had four mandates as mayor of Csíkszereda but lost this year at the primary municipal elections to Attila Korodi, who was then elected mayor of the Szekler city. Csíkszereda has a population of close to 40,000, 81.5 percent of whom are ethnic Hungarians.

The DNA was established in 2002 and operates under the Prosecutor’s Office as an independent judicial structure. It is entrusted with investigating suspected corruption committed by social, political, and public officials. The DNA has often been criticized for utilizing pre-trial detention as leverage against suspects. Some have spent more than 100 days in custody pending trial. Romanian media has also questioned the legality of the DNA’s relationship with the Romanian Intelligence Service, the SRI.

Title image: The mayor and the deputy mayor of Csíkszereda were taken into custody in 2015 and after their release, placed under judicial control. The court of appeals dismissed all charges against them as unfounded.

Source: ziarharghita.ro/archive image          

Author: Éva Zay