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Head of Romania’s governing party sentenced to prison for corruption

Romania's top court on Monday sentenced the leader of the ruling Social Democrats (PSD), Liviu Dragnea, to prison for corruption.

Bucharest, 27 May 2019 (dpa/MIA) – Romania’s top court on Monday sentenced the leader of the ruling Social Democrats (PSD), Liviu Dragnea, to prison for corruption.

Dragnea, who was unable to assume the post of prime minister because of a criminal conviction for electoral fraud, was handed three and a half years for abuse of office by an appeals court.

He was initially sentenced for the violation, inciting subordinates to employ two party members in state institutions, by a lower court last year. Dragnea has now run out of appeals and is due to begin serving his sentence shortly.

The ruling came a day after Romanians voting in EU elections punished the PSD for controversial justice reform. The party lost to its opposition rivals, the National Liberal Party (PNL).

A referendum on corruption was held alongside the European Parliament vote in Romania.

The referendum, called by President Klaus Iohannis in an attempt to block controversial government measures, is not legally binding, but overwhelming support for the initiative dealt a blow to Prime Minister Viorica Dancila, who is seen as a mere Dragnea puppet.

The justice reforms have been criticized within Romania and by the European Union. They are widely seen as watering down an anti-corruption drive and tailored to keep Dragnea and other corrupt politicians out of prison.

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