Joint letter on conviction and imprisonment Robert Roșu
On 17 December 2020, the High Court of Justice and Cassation of Romania found lawyer Robert Roșu, partner at the law firm Tuca Zbarcea & Asociatii in Bucharest, guilty of participating in the formation of an organized criminal group and of complicity to abuse of office, and sentenced him to 5 years in prison.
According to the information received, the criminal case against Mr. Roșu is most likely related to his professional activities in the ‘Băneasa Farm Case’ regarding the restitution of large plots of land in northern Bucharest to the heir of King Carol II of Romania.
Mr. Roșu, as the latter’s legal representative, secured the restitution, as well as the restitution of of other property to different clients through administrative procedures. In December 2015, Mr. Roșu was charged with the formation of an organized criminal group, complicity to abuse of office, influence peddling, and money laundering and placed under house arrest for three months. We believe that Mr Rosu’s conviction is related to his work as a lawyer, specifically his work on the above-mentioned restitution cases. In March 2016, a judge of the Criminal Division of the High Court of Cassation and Justice found that Mr. Roșu’s actions “fall within the limits of the activities normally carried out by a lawyer”. On 11 March 2016, Mr. Roșu was released from house arrest.
However, the National Anticorruption Directorate (NAD) decided that the criminal prosecution against Mr. Roșu should continue and indicted him in May 2016. In June 2019, the Brașov Court of Appeals acquitted Mr. Roșu of all charges, establishing that there was no indication that Mr. Roșu committed any of the crimes with which he had been charged. The NAD decided to appeal the sentence issued by the Brasov Court of Appeals before the High Court of Cassation and Justice. In the view of the NAD’s prosecutors, Mr. Roșu was criminally guilty for his “mere presence” alongside his client in proceedings before a restitution commission, for using “an important volume of information referring to legal terminology”, and for excessively “persuasive” pleadings.
On 17 December 2020, the High Court of Justice and Cassation found Mr. Roșu guilty on charges of creating an organized criminal group and complicity to abuse in public office, and sentenced him to five years in prison. Mr Roșu is currently serving his sentence in Rahova prison. On 7 April 2021, four months after the decision was rendered by the High Court Cassation and Justice, the judgment was finally published and served upon Mr Roșu.
We are concerned that Mr. Roșu was found guilty and sentenced to five years imprisonment as a result of being identified with his client and are also alarmed by alleged procedural irregularities such as lawyers being asked to testify as witnesses in the case.
Lawyers for Lawyers and the Law Society of England and Wales express concern about the conviction of Mr. Rosu and call on the Romanian authorities to: review his case and vacate the charges against him unless credible evidence is presented in proceedings that respect international fair trial guarantees, release Mr Rosu pending such review, and guarantee that all lawyers in Romania, including Mr. Roșu, are able to practice law without threat, intimidation, hindrance, harassment, improper interference or reprisals.