How was a former Democratic MP convicted of “treason” and why was the criminal case started against him political? Who orders political cases and who handles them? Were those who handled this case constrained or stimulated? Were the ordered cases practiced “at the upper level” rather than among ordinary people? Is there corruption in the Moldovan justice system? What does the action plan worked out after his acquittal stipulate and how capable is society to demand more justice from politicians and the authorities in Moldova? Responses to these and other questions can be found in Sabina Rebeja’s interview with ex-MP Iurie Bolboceanu.
– IPN: Mister Bolboceanu, your case is interesting for at least two reasons. Firstly, as far as I know, it is the only one or one of the few cases in which a person is tried and convicted of “treason”. Secondly, it is one of the few cases in which the justice system on the whole, including the prosecutors and judges, admitted that they made a mistake in relation to you or, if we use the language of our project, committed an act of injustice. Let’s discuss your case as a model so as to better realize in what conditions and by whom it is ordered and how the orders are executed when the case is started by order and is even political. But first tell us please in short what happened to you that you faced such exceptional measures?
– Iurie Bolboceanu: Those who planned this crime, and also those who during three years committed it, regrettably, know better how those exceptional measures started to be applied. I think anyone could have been in my pace and the post held in the Republic of Moldova didn’t matter as, particularly in 2011- 2019, the post or place in society of those who were to be punished somehow didn’t really matter. Moreover, I think such an article and such a formulation as “treason” – I always smile when I pronounce this word - were used because we do not have evidential basis for this article of the Penal Code in Moldova […]. The goal was to arrest me at any cost and they thus found this sordid and dirty method that they employed. It’s clear that one cannot penetrate the mind of such individuals as Plahotniuc. But I knew what he planned as I was warned by one of the SIS officers back in June 2016 and I have witnesses and they know that I was warned.
– IPN: So, you knew that something had been hatched up against you for over half a year?
Yes, I knew that something was being fabricated and that I would be arrested. I was even advised to leave the country, but I refused to leave as I’m a citizen of this country and my family, children, parents are here and I would never leave. I stayed and they achieved their goal on March 17, 2017. I repeat that it is regrettable, but that’s the way it was. The task was assigned and was performed “successfully”.
– IPN: How was this period for you and your family? How did you feel in the period?
– Iurie Bolboceanu: It’s hard to asses such a situation, but I want to tell you that after I left the Democratic Party, I was prepared for those measures as they warned me on the very first day. Psychologically, I was prepared. I had a lot of thoughts, ideas. I thought about leaving the country, but I ultimately decided to stay and to fight here, in the Republic of Moldova, as I was convinced that time will come and these irregularities will be exposed. It was harder for my family. My children and my wife haven’t yet fully recovered. It’s normal to be so as at that moment I knew very well that I wasn’t guilty, but they didn’t have any idea and it was an extraordinary shock for them. They couldn’t obtain any information as they could not get in touch with me for almost a year. After a year, we had two meetings in the penitentiary, were I explained the situation to them. During a year they gathered “information” from that media holding of Plahotniuc […] It’s clear that they suffered a lot and my wife and my children were even persecuted, followed. A criminal case was started against my son. They drove a tank over our family. This is painful and the pain will yet last.
– IPN: Did those who arrested and investigated you – police officers, prosecutors, probably SIS employees - know that they were handling a case started by order?
– Iurie Bolboceanu: They all knew, absolutely all of them. This was evident and we felt it. Moreover, during the investigation or when they brought me to court for the arrest warrant to be extended, someone from the Prosecutor’s Office told me secretly: “Mister Bolboceanu, we are not your enemies. But this is the situation and we cannot do anything. We advise you to think as, if you admit that you revealed a secret, we can apply the “revealing of state secret“ article instead of “treason” and you will only be fined and can go home”. “Fine, I’m a normal person and want to go home, not to stay in jail, but how can I say what I didn’t do and could not do...”, “We will tell you what to say”.
– IPN: Why did they do this? Where they constrained, influenced or bribed somehow?
– Iurie Bolboceanu: I cannot say why they did this. I think in many cases they were forced to. They were probably remunerated in some of the cases, but not they, but their chiefs. They could have been blackmailed with the job, relatives. There was a tense and nervous atmosphere in their gang, but they ultimately fulfilled the task assigned to them.
– IPN: When you were arrested, you had a public post. Did the status of public figure help you or, on the contrary, it does not help when someone intends to or institutes criminal proceedings by order?
– Iurie Bolboceanu: I don’t think the status of public figure had any value in that period, if there was a decision saying the person must be punished. In a state with the rule of law, such things should not happen. Under the rule of law, the person, the post held by this and their place in the hierarchy of the power do not matter. If the person broke the law, this should be held accountable as the ordinary people who commit violations are. There should be no difference, but the trial should be fair and public so that everyone knows those things […].
– IPN: While interacting closer with the justice system, did you witness acts of corruption in the system? How much is this system affected by corruption?
– Iurie Bolboceanu: Corruption exists not only in the judiciary and in the prosecution service, but also in the whole system of government. During about ten years or more, the government in the Republic of Moldova has done what they wanted. But what is more outrageous is with what impudence, sarcasm and contempt they do this, without taking into account the consequences of such actions. There was a period when the bribes weren’t even counted. These were collected in bags or sacks. Corruption expanded up in practically all the state institutions, the management system being absolutely inefficient […].
– IPN: In a TV program, you said that after the acquittal decision takes effect, you and your lawyer will think up an action plan with the subsequent steps. Did you work out such a plan? What does it contain?
– Iurie Bolboceanu: I drew up this plan. I can make public some of its points, not yet all of them. They will anyway become known, but not now. One of the points of this plan is to formulate a statement addressed to the Prosecutor General’s Office, in particular the prospector general, with all the violations, abuses and illegalities committed in this case by prosecutors, investigators, operational officers, judges. We have worked on it for two months as we had to collect the relevant information, including from news conferences, all those lies that were disseminated by Plahotniuc’s holding. The information was systemized into 42 A4 format pages. We also have a more succinct variant of 26 pages […] We demand that all the persons who were involved in the fabrication of this case should be held accountable and get the punishment deserved in a civilized state with the rule of law […] We hope the prosecutors will be patient to get to the essence of this unprecedented case with rather painful effects.
– IPN: How capable is our society to demand more justice from politicians and the authorities in Moldova?
– Iurie Bolboceanu: Society always demands authentic justice and wants this, but not always chooses judiciously so that the persons who come to power satisfy these wishes of society. The people should learn to give grades to the politicians according to merits, to be harsher towards the politicians: “If you promised and fulfilled your promise, work further!”. “If you promised, but did nothing, you should leave!”. We must always be searching!
Other aspects of this case of injustice, of the action plan that is to be implemented and other details can be found in the video variant of the interview with ex-political prisoner Iurie Bolboceanu.
The interview was conducted in the framework of IPN’s project “Exposing Injustice through Multimedia”.