Romania's PM Ponta to go on holiday amid criminal probe

Reuters News
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Posted: Jul 28, 2015 6:58 PM

BUCHAREST (Reuters) - Romania's leftist Prime Minister Victor Ponta said on Tuesday he will be on holiday from Wednesday until Aug. 9, weeks before he is to face hearings by prosecutors conducting a criminal investigation against him.

Earlier this month prosecutors charged Ponta with forgery and serving as an accessory to tax evasion and money laundering during his past activity as a lawyer. He has denied any wrongdoing.

Ponta returned from an Istanbul hospital in early June after an absence of nearly one month to undergo knee surgery.

He checked into a hospital in Turkey without informing the president or the Romanian public, raising questions about his political future and the stability of the government. He has said he may need to undergo further surgery.

"I am going on holiday, I will return on August 9," Ponta told local television station B1. "It is ... a holiday with my family, outside the country."

Deputy Prime Minister Gabriel Oprea acted as interim prime minister during Ponta's stay in Istanbul and is expected to do so again, pending approval from President Klaus Iohannis.

Ponta has so far withstood intense political pressure to resign and his cabinet has survived three no confidence votes in parliament, most recently last month.

(Reporting by Luiza Ilie)