The defectors escaped prosecution, but not all. Why are the former democratic deputies still accused

The file of the 14 defecting ex-deputies, accused of taking bribes to switch from the Communist Party of the Republic of Moldova (PCRM) to the Democratic Party of Moldova (PDM), was closed after 3 years of investigation. However, the prosecutors did not give up the accusations brought for illicit enrichment.

According to a press release from the General Prosecutor's Office, "As a result of carrying out all the imposed criminal investigation actions and exhausting the legal ways of administering the evidence, the accused persons were removed from criminal investigation, and the criminal trial was dismissed on the grounds that the criminal acts imputed to them do not meet the elements of the crime."

The main evidence in the bribery case were the statements of former PCRM deputy Elena Bondarenco, made public in 2016, which could not be confirmed by other evidence. More than that, the witness in question, ex-deputy Elena Bondarenco, died.

The file accusing the 14 former deputies of passive corruption was started on 28.10.2019 by the former interim general prosecutor, Dumitru Robu.

The prosecutors did not abandon the accusations of illicit enrichment brought to the defectors in a case started at the beginning of last year. Sources from the Prosecutor's Office have informed the Anticorupţ portal that 13 files for illicit enrichment are under the management of the anti-corruption prosecutors, which are currently being investigated in collaboration with the Agency for the Recovery of Criminal Assets (ARBI).

In February 2022, anti-corruption prosecutors raided 14 former MPs from the PCRM, who left the party in 2015 and joined the PDM in 2017. Their names can be found in an investigation by the Center for Investigative Journalism, carried out in January 2016.

The 14 former deputies are Alexandr Banicov, Anatolie Zagorodnîi, Boris Golovin, Anatolie Gorilă, Igor Vremea, Corneliu Mihalache, Galina Balmoş, Sergiu Stați, Elena Gudumac, Petru Porcescu, Victor Mîndru, Violeta Ivanov, Artur Reşetnicov, Vladimir Vitiuc.

Following the preliminary investigations, it was established that the expenses of the investigated ex-deputies exceed their legal income in some cases by 350,000 lei, and in other cases this difference reaches a value of about 4.6 million lei.

The press service of the General Prosecutor's Office specified that in the case of 13 former deputies, descents were carried out on Wednesday morning, but the number of people investigated in this case is higher.

The defectors initially gathered in the social-democratic Platform "For Moldova", and they had their first official meeting with Vlad Plahotniuc, who then returned to politics to become the PD candidate for the position of Prime Minister. All 14 supported the creation of the parliamentary majority, being ready to vote for the controversial businessman as head of the Executive.

At the end of 2015, the former communists asked the Constitutional Court to cancel the decree of President Nicolae Timofti designating the candidacy of Ion Sturza for the position of prime minister, absent from the meeting where the government program proposed by him was to be debated. At the beginning of 2016, they voted for the Cabinet of Ministers led by the democrat Pavel Filip.

In 2016, PCRM deputy Elena Bondarenco publicly alleged that a deputy from the Democratic Party had offered her a substantial sum of money in dollars, "with six zeros," to leave the Communist Party and vote for the Filip Government.

The Center for  Investigative Journalism (CIJM) has published a detailed report on the defected MPs, titled "Deputy business: who are the defectors ready to vote for the PD candidate for prime minister."

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