Bulgarian court orders extradition of Romanian ex-minister

The Sofia Court of Appeals ordered on June 10 the extradition to Romania of former cabinet minister Elena Udrea who faces a six-year prison term on corruption and abuse of office charges.

Udrea, a former regional development and tourism minister, as well as a former adviser to President Traian Basescu and a former presidential candidate,was sentenced in March 2017 to six years in prison in a corruption case, on charges she has consistently denied.

In 2019, after spending months seeking asylum in Costa Rica, she returned to Romania, leaving that country for Bulgaria in April 2022 after Romania’s high court upheld her prison sentence.

Attempting to cross into Greece, Udrea was taken into custody at the Kulata border checkpoint by Bulgarian Border Police, acting on a European Arrest Warrant.

The Blagoevgrad District Court ruled in mid-April to approve her extradition to Romania, which she took on appeal to the Sofia court.

Udrea argued that the charges on which she had been found guilty in Bucharest were politically-motivated, and that her rights would be violated by the harsh conditions in a Romanian prison.

She also asked the Bulgarian court to make a preliminary request to the European Court of Human Rights in Luxembourg as to whether her extradition could be refused if there was evidence that her human rights would be violated in Romania.

However, the appellate judges refused, recalling that there were two similar rulings on identical cases.

The Sofia Court of Appeals ruled that there were sufficient facts to show that Romanian authorities had taken steps to remedy irregularities in the case against Udrea, including the right to re-open the case.

The court’s ruling is final.

(Archive photo: European People’s Party, via Wikimedia Commons)

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