By Paul Ciocoiu
Less than a week after former Prime Minister Adrian Nastase shot himself in the neck as police arrived to take him to prison for a corruption conviction, Romanian prosecutors launched a criminal investigation against Serban Bradisteanu, the doctor who operated on Nastase, and three unnamed policemen.
“The deeds which are subject to the penal investigation refer to hindering the enforcement of the punishment applied … to former Prime Minister Adrian Nastase,” the anti-corruption prosecuting office said on Tuesday (June 26th).
Bradisteanu said that Nastase should be kept in the hospital for at least 14 days, due to the risk of complications from the gunshot wound. However, the National Anti-corruption Department intercepted phone calls from Bradisteanu, during which he said Nastase is in very good condition. He and the police officers are accused of obstruction of justice.
A Bucharest Court decided on Tuesday that Nastase should be transferred to the Rahova Penitentiary.
Nastase, who was prime minister between 2000 and 2004, was convicted of illegally raising about 1.6m euros during his 2004 presidential campaign, and was sentenced to two years in prison.
Many questioned the gravity of his wounds after he was taken to hospital last week, however — Nastase was conscious, with no signs of bleeding or an oxygen mask, while his neck was wrapped in a scarf.
For about a week, the public was left with the impression Nastase’s life was hanging by a thread. His lawyer filed an application to suspend his client’s prison sentence due to medical reasons. In the eyes of the Romanians, Nastase started looking like a victim.
“The way it all started, Nastase was finished politically. Then a question arose: what happened to the image of the party?” Mircea Kivu, an associate professor of sociology at Bucharest University, told SETimes.
“Some of the prominent social-democrats tried so to turn Nastase’s situation into a victimisation story by taking advantage of people’s compassion. It worked in the short term, but in the long term, this will negatively impact the party,” Kivu said. “To me, the suicide attempt was an explainable reaction of the man Adrian Nastase. Too bad some tried to capitalise on that afterwards.”
Citizens seem to be unsure what to believe.
“Nastase is just a scapegoat. He was a troublesome political opponent and was thus removed. His suicidal attempt was just the effect of all the pressure exerted upon him over the years,” Gheorghe Stanilescu, a 58-year-old electrician in Bucharest, told SETimes.
“I am not saying he is not corrupt. I am just saying he is not the only one. Does the justice work? Get them all then,” he said.
Others see the former prime minister’s suicide attempt an act of cowardice.
“Is this the same man that ruled the country with an iron fist for four years? His gesture is shameful and all the more confirms his guilt. Otherwise he would have fought to the very end to prove his innocence,” Alexandru Nicoara, a 37-year-old financial controller, told SETimes.