Romania’s Supreme Court has decided to send Liviu Dragnea, the powerful president of the ruling Social Democratic Party (PSD), to prison for three-and-a-half years over a corruption case involving fake jobs for party workers.
Dragnea was accused of using his influence to procure fake public jobs for two women who were actually working for the PSD at the time.
The verdict is final as the Supreme Court rejected a previous appeal by Dragnea, who is seen as the most powerful politician in Romania. Dragnea has already had a suspended jail sentence for a rigged referendum, due to which he could not become prime minister after PSD won the 2016 elections with the best score in its history.
In the EU elections on Sunday, the PSD got less than 23% of the vote, a sharp drop from the 37.6% they won in 2014. The results prompted other socialist politicians to ask Dragnea to resign.
The centre-right National Liberal Party (PNL) and the centrist USR-PLUS alliance together racked up more than 48% of the vote, with 97% of ballots counted.
The Party of European Socialists (PES) has frozen its relations with the PSD over rule of law concerns and a decision on PSD’s continuing membership of the group is expected at a congress in June.
[Edited by Sarantis Michalopoulos]