Romanian president Basescu fined for making disparaging Roma remarks
Romania’s discrimination watchdog has fined president Traian Basescu for making disparaging remarks against the country’s Roma minority.
The council for combatting discrimination ruled on February 10 to fine Basescu 600 lei (about 134 euro) for saying that “very few [Roma] wish to work; many of them, traditionally, live off what they steal.”
Basescu made the remarks in November 2010, during a visit to Slovenia. Initially, the watchdog refused to issue a ruling because it was outside its jurisdiction, but a case brought by a Romanian NGO successfully appealed the ruling in court.
The watchdog said that the size of the fine was determined by the fact that this was a repeat offense for Basescu.
In July 2007, Basescu drew accusations of discrimination after he called a reporter “a stinking Gipsy”. He received a warning from the discrimination watchdog, but that was later overturned by the High Court of Cassation and Justice, which ruled in May 2008 that even though Basescu’s words were discriminatory, they did not “constitute an infringement” and the watchdog did not have any grounds to penalise Basescu.
(Romanian president Traian Basescu. Photo: European Council/flickr.com)