Romanian inmates get early release
Overcrowding and filthy conditions in Romanian prisons will allow thousands of convicts to regain their freedom regardless of their crimes as anti-corruption protests have gripped Bucharest.
Last month, 530 prisoners were freed, including 33 murderers, 47 rapists and two paedophiles, because legislation has cut six days off every prisoner’s sentence for every 30 days they spent incarcerated in what have been called the EU’s most “inhumane and degrading” jails.
Three dangerous inmates from a maximum-security jail in Giurgiu, southern Romania, were released by mistake, according to the Romanian media.
The rapist, robber and human trafficker, according to Giurgiu prison director Marius Fulga, were released due to an error in calculating the days for each detainee. One man was still on the run, Mediafax reported.
Another 3,500 prisoners became eligible for parole this month because of reduced sentences, with around 8,000 set to find their freedom during the first year.
The Romanian media reported that a man, who was released a year early from a 10-year rape term, had robbed and sexually assaulted a woman in Bucharest four days after his release.
Earlier this year the European Court of Human Rights criticised Romania’s prison conditions after four convicts complained about overcrowding, filthy conditions, substandard food and infestations of rats.
In April the court told Bucharest that it needed to produce a plan to reform its prisons.
“There have been a series of judgements from the European Court of Human Rights concerning inadequate prison conditions in Romania going back several years,” Council of Europe spokesman said.
“The Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers is working with the Romanian authorities to address these issues.”
There are fears the new measures could be used to release corrupt politicians and officials. So-called VIP prisoners avoid the problems of other inmates, who are reportedly confined 18-20 per cell on average.
More than 10,000 people took part in protests across Romania on Sunday in an attempt to stop the government from passing legislation they say would weaken the anti-corruption prosecutor.
Demonstrators shouted “Justice, not corruption” and “We don’t want to be a nation of thieves” as they marched through the capital, Bucharest, and other cities.
Under the proposals, the justice minister would have the power to appoint and dismiss leading prosecutors, something only the president can do currently.
The anti-corruption prosecutor’s office would have its powers limited and be prevented from investigating magistrates.
Gherla Prison. Picture credit: Flickr