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The Superior Council of Magistracy in Romania has given green light to slashing special pensions for magistrates who have been convicted for corruption in its latest plenary session. The decision applies for any actions related to magistrates’ work and carried out deliberately, and for other crimes that dent the prestige of the Romanian judiciary. The draft law is to apply to all magistrates who have been given convictions to this day, Justice Minister Robert Cazanciuc has said. Robert Cazanciuc: “Following a series of debates the Superior Council of Magistracy has put forth a couple of technical suggestions which will be analyzed by the Ministry. We have agreed on a number of categories of crimes. We have also settled that once it comes into force, the law will apply to all magistrates convicted for corruption. They will be losing their pensions as soon as the law comes into force”. Cazanciuc also made it clear that the law has no retroactive effect, in the sense that no magistrate will have to pay back the pension received so far. Rather, magistrates’ pensions will no longer be calculated according to special laws. At present, magistrates’ pensions stand at around 15 to 16 thousand Lei, that is 3.500 euros. The decision to eliminate these special pensions follows a series of scandals involving top-level magistrates who got final convictions. On August 13, Prime Minister Victor Ponta told a television station that the Ministry of Justice was ready to draft a law in that respect. If the judiciary were cleaned up, Victor Ponta argued, this would benefit Romania and magistrates who are honest, since magistrates are generally seen as corrupt. Some 90% of magistrates are honest, Ponta went on to say, although we should not pretend we don’t know, for instance, that property restitution or public procurement agreements take years to be signed off due to conflicting rulings. Over the last 20 years the Romanian judiciary has been constantly marred by cases of corrupt judges, which have recently multiplied. Florin Costiniu, a former High Court judge, is but one example of corrupt judges. In early 2010 Constiniu was convicted for taking a 200-thousand-euro bribe to rule in favour of a well-known senator. Another recent headline-grabbing scandal is the case of a Court of Appeal judge, who allegedly took bribes of up to 1.2 million euros in exchange for favourable rulings in criminal cases. Romania Radio International
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