Dr. Virgiliu Urechi, a former head of the radiology department at the Chisinau Oncological Institute, is seeking monetary compensation from journalists for alleged damage to his honor and dignity. In February of last year, Urechi was attacked by masked individuals from the CNA, allegedly due to his practice of extorting money from the family of a cancer patient. He has now sent preliminary requests for summons to several newsrooms, claiming that his reputation was tarnished by their reporting on the incident. Urechi is demanding 500,000 lei in moral damages from the Journalistic Investigative Center and the Anticorupție.md portal, and a further 500,000 lei from the Sanatate.md portal. He is demanding a total of 1 million lei from Ziarul de Gardă. Additionally, Urechi has reportedly tried to solicit money directly from some media outlets in an effort to avoid a lawsuit.
Dr. Virgiliu Urechi, a former head of the radiology department at the Chisinau Oncological Institute, was taken into custody by anti-corruption officials and prosecutors on February 15, 2022. He was arrested on allegations of extorting 2,000 euros from a cancer patient in exchange for ensuring their prompt hospitalization and treatment. On February 18, 2022, a warrant was issued for his arrest, and he was subsequently held in custody for 20 days. The case against Urechi was further complicated when a new complaint was filed by an individual who claimed that the doctor had offered them a bribe of 50,000 lei in exchange for expediting the hospitalization of their sick mother. The informant provided audio evidence of the conversation, which they later attached to the official report. On March 24, 2022, the Chisinau Court, Ciocana headquarters, decided to place Urechi under house arrest for 30 days.
On April 22, 2022, the Anti-Corruption Agency of the Republic of Moldova (ARBI) seized control of Dr. Virgiliu Urechi's vehicle, which was estimated to be worth almost half a million lei.
The criminal case against Urechi, who served as the head of the radiology department at the Oncological Hospital, is still undergoing primary examination. Over the course of nearly a year, four meetings have been held in which the case was discussed, and in one of them, it was decided to place Urechi under judicial control. The case file was later updated with additional allegations from whistleblowers who claimed to have been asked for bribes with five zeros.
One year after his arrest, Urechi is seeking revenge against the media outlets that reported on his arrest, detention, criminal case, and trial. He has sent preliminary requests to sue the editors of the portals www.anticoruptie.md, sănătate.md, and Ziarul de Gardă. Additionally, he has directly asked for a sum of money from the portal www.sinteza.org, in an effort to avoid being sued.
It is important to note that both the Oncological Institute and the Ministry of Health have publicly denounced the arrest of Dr. Virgiliu Urechi for allegedly extorting money from patients. In a statement, the Oncological Institute expressed regret for the impact this situation has had on the reputation of other doctors in the institution who work honestly. They also expressed sympathy for the patient and their family who have been subjected to such an experience.
The Minister of Health, Ala Nemerenco, also spoke out against the situation, calling Urechi's actions a shame for the entire healthcare system. In a post on Facebook, Nemerenco wrote that the arrest for extortion was a disgrace not only for Urechi and the medical community, but also for his family, especially his parents.
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