Ex-president makes statement to prosecutors in threats probe

AP News
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Posted: Mar 24, 2015 11:41 AM

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — Romania's former president was booed and jeered Tuesday after he spent two hours giving statements to prosecutors who have put him under criminal investigation for allegedly making threatening remarks to a senator.

As he entered the prosecutor's office Tuesday, former President Traian Basescu smiled and said it was "normal" he was being investigated. He potentially faces charges of threatening and blackmailing Senator Gabriela Vranceanu-Firea, a political rival.

"I gave a full statement to clarify things...I am not afraid of the law," Basescu said after emerging almost two hours later.

Some 20 protesters gathered outside yelling: "Basescu, to prison!" and jeered after he left. He was president from 2004 to 2014.

Last year, while Basescu was still president, Vranceanu-Firea accused Basescu's elder daughter of fraud related to a property restitution case.

Basescu then publicly warned Vranceanu-Firea to "be careful," saying one day she might not find her husband at home. The investigation against him began on March 11.

In an unrelated case, anti-corruption prosecutors alleged Tuesday that former Finance Minister Darius Valcov had hidden bribes of $90,000, three kilograms (6.6 pounds) of gold, 1.3 million lei ($320,000) and a painting by French Impressionist Auguste Renoir in a friend's safe, starting from 2011.

Valcov resigned as finance minister on March 15 after prosecutors charged him with taking 2 million euros ($2.1 million) in bribes when he was a mayor of a southern town. He denies wrongdoing.

Prosecutors have launched a series of high-level corruption investigations in the past year.