DOC// Ex-prosecutor Igor Popa, accused of illicit enrichment, moves to Străseni

Viorica Mija
Sursa: CIJM

The complaint of the former deputy general prosecutor, Igor Popa, who is accused of illicit enrichment, will be examined by the Străseni Court. The decision to relocate the case was approved by the Supreme Court of Justice (SCJ). The file in which Igor Popa is accused of illicit enrichment and making false statements is also under examination. The Anticorruption Prosecutor's Office initiated the criminal investigation based on an investigation by the Center for Investigative Journalism (CIJM) regarding the luxurious apartment owned by the accused in an upscale building in Chisinau.

The former deputy general prosecutor, Igor Popa, has filed a complaint with the court regarding two orders issued against him. These orders concern the one issued by Prosecutor Petru Iarmaliuc on March 10, 2023, while Popa was assigned to the Anticorruption Prosecutor's Office, as well as the one signed by the interim deputy chief prosecutor of the Anticorruption Prosecutor's Office, Octavian Iachimovschi, on April 6 of the current year. The request to relocate the case was submitted by Popa's lawyer, Valeriu Bodean, who previously worked in the Prosecutor's Office for Combating Organized Crime and Special Cases (PCCOCS).

According to the request, having the complaint examined by the magistrates of the Chisinau Court, Ciocana headquarters, could "potentially hinder the fair and impartial resolution of the case by the concerned court" because Igor Popa, due to his previous role, "had interactions with the judicial body of the Chisinau Court, Ciocana headquarters."

The full panel of the Supreme Court of Justice found the plaintiff's arguments to be plausible and decided to transfer the case from the Chisinau District Court to the Străşeni District Court.

"To eliminate any circumstances that could reasonably cast doubt on the impartiality of the judges when considering the filed complaint and to prevent the need for judges of this court to recuse themselves, which could affect the efficiency of the complaint examination, the Panel of Judges concludes that these circumstances fall within the purview of transferring the case, and thus, the current request is to be granted," states the decision of the SCJ.

The criminal prosecution against Popa was initiated in November 2021 based on a reasonable suspicion that he deliberately omitted certain information in his wealth and personal interest declarations for the period 2018-2020, particularly regarding real estate owned by his concubine, which constituted their shared living space.

Igor Popa was detained on November 9, 2021, and a criminal case for illicit enrichment was filed against him based on information presented by journalists.

Popa has been the subject of several investigations by CIJM. During the communist regime, he was accused of fabricating files to order and ordering the trials of young protesters in police stations. When power was taken over by the Democratic Party of Moldova (PDM) and its president, oligarch Vladimir Plahotniuc, prosecutor Igor Popa was promoted to the position of deputy general prosecutor.

Viorica Mija

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