Italy a haven for Romanian criminals?
The influential Romanian president of Neamţ County Council, Ionel Arsene, was sentenced to six years and eight months in prison for abuse of power by the Court of Appeal in Brașov on Friday. However, he will not serve the prison sentence for the time being because he has absconded, presumably to Italy. Commentators see a dangerous trend.
Model businessmen in bella Italia
Several other Romanian convicts have already chosen this successful escape route, Radio Europa Liberă reports:
“Currently [since 2021], judges in Italy can only refuse extradition or to execute a European Arrest Warrant if the convict has been resident in Italy for at least five years. Under these new conditions, famous Romanian defendants, whose trials drag on for years, prepare their ‘escape’ long in advance and settle in Italy, where they become exemplary businessmen. They launch companies, pay taxes, hire expensive lawyers and prevent their extradition by invoking all kinds of pretexts — the most common being the poor prison conditions in their home country.”
Symptom of deficiencies at the European level
Such cases should give the EU pause for thought, writes journalist Ioana Ene Dogioiu on Spotmedia:
“It is true that Italy and Greece are the preferred destinations for Romanian and other criminals, because these countries are deeply corrupt like the whole ‘southern flank’ of Europe and can provide an escape route. This is a fact that should worry Brussels. If convicted criminals from one EU state can find refuge in another, there is something wrong with judicial cooperation and standards, and presumably also with integrity, both in the drafting and enforcement of the law in these havens for criminals.”