Alexander Adamescu

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Template:Npov Alexander Adamescu is a German writer and businessman (6 May 1978 - ). His arrest in June 2016 and ongoing attempts by the Romanian government to extradite him from the United Kingdom on charges of alleged bribery has generated international media attention,[1][2][3][4] triggering both official and unofficial[5] inquiries into allegations of politically motivated prosecution, high-level corruption and abuse of process.[6]

His father, Dan Adamescu, died in hospital after contracting sepsis at the notorious high security Rahova Prison, where he was serving four years for bribery.[7] The circumstances surrounding his death on 24 January 2017 drew the attention of international journalists, human rights advocates and politicians from across the political spectrum in Romania,  including an intervention from Romania’s former President Traian Basescu who claimed that Dan Adamescu was killed by the “contempt for life of prosecutors and judges”.

Education and Career[edit | hide all | hide | edit source]

Born on 6 May 1978, Adamescu was educated at the Humboldt University of Berlin, and later at Paris-Sorbonne University and the French grande ecole ENSAE.[8]

His professional career began as a Research Fellow in Stochastics at the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences at New York University in 2005. In 2005/6 he joined the global management consulting firm McKinsey & Company as an Associate, before later joining the Board of Directors of his family’s company, The Nova Group, where he served for 6 years.[8]

In 2012, Adamescu moved to London to pursue a career as a writer, enrolling at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama and later staging a play, 54’5’ North 10’53’ East, at the Sibiu Festival in Romania.[8]

Prosecution and Imprisonment of Dan Adamescu[edit | hide | edit source]

On 24 May 2014, then Prime Minister of Romania Victor Ponta, publicly declared Dan Adamescu, Alexander Adamescu’s father, guilty of bribery on national television, alleging that Dan had “led a network of corruption to such a great effect over a period of many years”.[4]

According to Human Rights Without Frontiers, Prime Minister Ponta’s allegations were motivated by Dan’s role as the publisher of Romania Libera: “There is strong evidence that during his time in office, Ponta personally ordered the proceedings against Dan Adamescu on bribery charges of 20,000 Euros, amongst other things, as retribution for the paper’s unflattering press coverage.”[6]

Two weeks after Prime Minister Ponta appeared on television, “Dan Adamescu was arrested by masked anti-terror police, paraded in handcuffs in front of TV cameras, brandished a criminal on TV and declared guilty by the sitting judge on the first day of his trial.”[6] Dan Adamescu was “charged with ordering the payment of €20,000 (£17,000) of bribes to judges involved in insolvency hearings” relating to the Astra insurance company.[9]

In addition to Prime Minister Ponta’s televised allegations, according to Fair Trials International, a number of judicial statements were made in the course of Dan Adamescu’s pre-trial detention proceedings which “failed to respect the presumption of innocence”.[10]

In a decision to detain Mr Adamescu, the judge referred to “the seriousness of the illegal actions committed by him” describing them as facts rather than as yet unproved allegations.[10] On the first day of his trial, the judge declared that Mr Adamescu “had to be exposed to public shame”.[11]

At an appeal hearing challenging his detention, the Court of Cassation cited as one of its main reasons for denying the appeal the fact that “the defendant[s] continue to deny committing the crimes of which they stand accused and to challenge the existence of any evidence that justifies a reasonable suspicion that they did, in fact, commit these crimes.”[10]

According to the Henry Jackson Society, in January 2015 “after a legal process that featured countless procedure violations, Adamescu was found guilty on the uncorroborated testimony of a single co-operating witness and sentenced to four years and four months in prison.”[5]

Human Rights Without Frontiers described the judgement as the result of “a swift show trial…on the basis of a single denunciation by a tainted witness”.[6]

On 27 May 2016, Dan Adamescu’s appeal against his conviction at the Supreme Court was rejected, and his sentence was upheld.[12]

Alexander Adamescu Accused by Romania’s National Anticorruption Directorate[edit | hide | edit source]

According to the human rights lawyer Eeva Heikkila, “Alexander Adamescu is accused by Romania’s National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA) of consenting to bribery based on the declarations of a sole prosecution witness.”[13]

“Romanian courts issued two national arrest warrants against Alexander Adamescu: a first warrant on 4 May 2016 which was cancelled on 19 May and a second arrest warrant that was issued on the very same day, 19 May 2016 and then converted into a European Arrest Warrant on 6 June 2016.”[13]

It was reported that, “The Romanian authorities are demanding his extradition as part of a wider case against Mr Adamescu’s father Dan, a businessman and proprietor of the opposition newspaper Romania Libera, which has long been a thorn in the side of the Government.”[1]

Arrest[edit | hide | edit source]

On 13 June 2016, Alexander Adamescu was arrested by British police two hours before he was due to “deliver a statement to London’s Frontline Club, a well-known gathering spot for journalists”.[2]

Chairing the event, Joe Sternberg of the Wall Street Journal stated: “Alexander just this afternoon was arrested by British police outside of this venue, acting on a European Arrest Warrant that was set in motion by the Romanian authorities for what many people believe is really a political dispute back in Romania.”[14]

Adamescu’s wife, Adriana Constantinescu, standing in for her husband on the panel said: “We’ve been taken by surprise and are very shocked. We’ve come here to present our case, and to talk about the injustice and everything we’ve been through in the last few years.”[14]

Scheduled to appear on a discussion panel about the European Arrest Warrant alongside Adamescu, the British journalist Peter Oborne, commenting on the arrest said:

“What has happened this afternoon is completely and utterly grotesque… Judging by what we’ve been hearing and what we know about this case, Alexander is the victim of arbitrary justice carried out by a corrupt regime, although as so often in these cases it’s the anti-corruption authority which is persecuting him. He is the subject of a brutal persecution being carried out for political reasons. That a British government, the Ministry of Justice in this country, has authorised his arrest on a British street is beyond belief. It shames everybody, it shames this government, and it shames the European Union that we have something called the European Arrest Warrant that can be used for base means like this.”[14]

Reporting on the event, Luis Ramirez, a journalist for Voice of America, claimed that “the dramatic arrest…of a prominent Romanian businessman’s son is raising questions about the European Arrest Warrant, which obliges [EU] member states to carry out arrests on their soil on the orders of foreign governments”.[2]

Fighting Extradition[edit | hide | edit source]

Adamescu continues to deny the charges that he conspired with his father to bribe judges in Romania, claiming “The bribery case [against my father] was fabricated, and is now brought against me”.[9]

Adamescu has alleged that “corrupt elements within the Romanian state are determined to destroy his family and seize their business assets”.[7]

In an interview with The Times, he said he “fears that he will die in prison like his father if the Romanian government secures his extradition. He said the anti-corruption laws championed by the Romanian newspaper owned by his father were being perverted for political purposes to silence its opposition to the government.”[9]

In an interview with The Telegraph, he maintains that the bribery case against him has “no credible evidence” and that “under the EAW system the British courts aren’t allowed to look at the evidence against me, which is just hot air.”[1]

Death of Dan Adamescu[edit | hide | edit source]

While Alexander Adamescu continued his legal battle in the United Kingdom, in Romania Dan Adamescu was “consecutively imprisoned in three penitentiaries where his health status became increasingly serious.[15] Mr Adamescu’s health undoubtedly deteriorated as he languished in a prison system described as dating from the Middle Ages.”[4]

In a statement released by the Adamescu family, Alexander describes the conditions his father was held in:

“He was locked up in indescribable conditions at the Preventive Arrest Center. He was held with 6-8 inmates in an underground cell of a few square meters, without lockers, without space for movement, and with a Greek-style toilet. Due to his atrophied muscles and his knee condition, on several occasions he fell in his own excrement. He was shut in for 23 hours each day – allowed to go out for just one hour into a space of 30 sqm called “outside space”. In reality, this was an enclosure of approximately 30 sqm with grating instead of a ceiling and extremely dirty.  He was subsequently moved to Rahova Penitentiary, where he shared a cell with 6 inmates, but because of his aggravated health condition and the impossibility of movement he was permanently stuck in the cell. Moreover, for some inexplicable bureaucratic reason, he did not receive the medical treatment he desperately needed for 37 days, although his medicine was brought to him by my aunt who feared his life was in danger. The movement to Jilava Penitentiary meant another torment for my father and so from there he was finally brought unconscious to Floreasca ER Hospital. Only after 10 days of care were his vital functions able to be stabilised after a serious infection had spread throughout his entire body.”[16]

On Christmas Day 2016, Dan Adamescu was taken from jail to hospital. On 24 January 2017, he died of blood poisoning at the age of 68 “under prison conditions without his son being able to visit him.”[9]

Commenting on Dan Adamescu’s death, British journalist David Hencke claimed that “Romania’s inhumane prison system led to the tragic death of a campaigning newspaper owner”.[17]

Willy Fautre, Director of Human Rights Without Frontiers, whose organization highlights human rights abuses around the world, said Dan Adamescu’s death while in detention “sheds once again some tragic light on the appalling prison conditions” in Romania which, he says, have been denounced “year after year” by the European Court of Human Rights.[18]

Former President of Romania, Traian Basescu, claimed that Dan Adamescu should have been released from jail earlier due to his illnesses:

“The DNA prosecutors had all the medical papers of the man, the papers that proved the critical health situation. However, they continued to ask for him to remain in jail. Moreover, his health situation worsened by the disease he got in jail. In addition, the judges, who had the same papers, but who were obedient and frightened by the pressure of the DNA prosecutors, kept him in jail although the man was weakened by the disease.”[19]

International Arbitration[edit | hide | edit source]

In August 2015, Alexander Adamescu on behalf of his family’s company, The Nova Group, launched an international arbitration case against Romania, “demanding compensation for the systematic destruction of its investments in Romania, among which were Romanian insurance company Astra Asigurari and Romania Libera, an independent newspaper.”[20]

The case is being heard by the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) based at the World Bank in Washington.[21] Romania has been a signatory to the ICSID’s ‘Convention on the Settlement of Investment Disputes’ since 1974.[22] 

The decision by Romania to launch a European Arrest Warrant for Alexander Adamescu’s extradition several months after the arbitration was filed “drew international condemnation from academics, politicians and journalists who decried Romania’s alleged failure to respect due process and who were concerned by the apparent political motivations for the move.”[20]

The Nova Group's legal team were successful in demonstrating to the ICSID Tribunal that the extradition of Adamescu to Romania would prevent the arbitration from proceeding fairly.[23] In its decision to order Romania to withdraw the warrant, and in rejecting Romania's request for reconsideration of the decision, the tribunal acknowledged what it called Adamescu's "essential importance to the fair conduct of the arbitration."[23]

On 29 March 2017, the ICSID tribunal issued a binding decision ordering Romania to withdraw the warrant against Adamescu, and requiring Romania to “refrain from reissuing or transmitting any other EAW against him”.[20] On 10 April 2017, Romania asked the ICSID to reconsider its decision but this was rejected and the order upheld.[23]

Romania’s decision to refuse to abide by the ICSID’s ruling was criticised by Lord Goldsmith QC, the UK’s former Attorney General who stated:

"Romania's refusal to abide by the Tribunal's binding ruling places Romania in breach of an international treaty that it has been a signatory to for many decades. Unless Romania now complies without further delay, questions will rightly be asked about Romania's willingness to adhere to its international commitments."[20]

Experts claim that Romania’s pursuit of Adamescu’s extradition breaches its commitment to the ICSID convention which stipulates that no party which has consented to arbitration can unilaterally withdraw that consent.[20]

International Media Attention[edit | hide | edit source]

The treatment of the Adamescu family by both the Romanian authorities and the British legal system has generated international media attention.

Commenting on Alexander Adamescu’s arrest, the Daily Mail journalist Peter Oborne said: “I don’t blame our police, who had no choice under European law. However, it is grotesque that the British system of justice is suborned to help a corrupt government persecute someone who stands a negligible chance of a fair trial when he gets home.”[24]

Roger Boyes, Diplomatic Editor of The Times, reporting on the request to extradite Alexander Adamescu said, “A European arrest warrant has been issued against him even though there is no evidence of criminal wrongdoing; indeed our judges are supposed only to check that the paperwork is in order.”[3]

Luis Ramirez, a correspondent for Voice of America, stated, “Human rights advocates say the Romanian government's case against Alexander Adamescu is politically motivated, and critics argue British police should not be carrying out the dirty work of governments such as Romania, rated as one of the most corrupt in Europe.”[2]

Stephen Pollard, Editor of the Jewish Chronicle, wrote, “Adamescu’s father has already been imprisoned on trumped-up charges of bribing judges. Now the government is going after the son in the same way — in part to get full control of his father’s assets (he owns an insurance company).”[25]

Writing in The Guardian, David Clark – a former special advisor to Labour Foreign Secretary Robin Cook, claimed, “The only evidence against the younger Adamescu appears to be that he has continued to campaign for his father.”[26]

In The Telegraph, Senior Reporter Patrick Sawer, reported that “Campaigners claim the case of Alexander Adamescu shows that unscrupulous foreign politicians can exploit the British justice system to pursue their own agenda.”[1]

Dr Mitchell Belfer, an international relations expert, claimed in the International Policy Digest that “private parties – usually those closely connected to the ultra-powerful Romanian Intelligence Service (SRI) – have been able to use the anti-corruption campaign as a tool to grab up seized assets at knockdown prices. In the case of Adamescu’s insurance company, Astra, as soon as arbitration proceedings were launched against the state, the DNA ordered a European Arrest Warrant for his London-based son, Alexander Adamescu, who has never even lived in Romania and had no involvement in the case.”[27]

Graeme Leach, Chief Economist of Macronomics writing in City AM, commented, “Anyone familiar with this case becomes very angry, not just for Dan Adamescu, but for his son as well (who is living with his family in London). Romania has issued a European Arrest Warrant for Alexander Adamescu, in gross violation of key tenets of Romanian and international law. The entire process stinks, and was accompanied by a raid against the businesses the Adamescus led.”[28]

Calls for Reform of the European Arrest Warrant[edit | hide | edit source]

The Adamescu case has been cited by several journalists, politicians and academics - both by those calling for reform of the European Arrest Warrant and others urging the UK to withdraw from it. 

Stephen Pollard, Editor of the Jewish Chronicle, claims the Adamescu case is “The case that shows why we must not stay in the European Arrest Warrant” urging that “Unless Brexit means Brexit on this one, good people could be imprisoned by bad regimes”.[25]

Roger Boyes, Diplomatic Editor of The Times, questions the basis of the European Arrest Warrant system when there is “political manipulation of the justice system”. In his view, “The principle of such warrants is that inside the European Union everyone conforms to the same high legal standards and evidence therefore does not have to be examined. It is a system that has often worked for Britain — but it collapses if an EU member cannot guarantee a fair trial or if cases are politically inspired. And so the question arises: what is Romania doing in the EU at all?”[3]

Graham Brady, Chairman of the 1922 Committee and Member of Parliament for Altrincham and Sale West MP, claims: “The recent case of Alexander Adamescu is a clear example of not only how Romanian justice is in no way comparable to our own, but also demonstrates the urgent need for the UK to negotiate bespoke extradition arrangements that retain basic legal safeguards and for interim legislation to protect our high standards of justice until we have formally withdrawn from the EAW.”[29]

David Davies, Member of Parliament for Monmouth, stated his view in a debate on post-Brexit security and law enforcement in the House of Commons that “it is absolutely right that we use Brexit as an opportunity to renegotiate the whole system, and to work with countries that apply our systems of justice but to state with the utmost respect that we are unwilling to sacrifice the human rights of people like Alexander Adamescu in order to maintain membership of the EAW.”[30]

A joint report by The Hampden Trust in association with The Freedom Association and Economic Policy Centre examined the issues arising from the Romanian anti-corruption drive. It cited the treatment of the Adamescu family as an example of the need for reform of the EAW system: 

“In future, extraditions to Romania under the European Arrest Warrant should receive additional legal scrutiny from extraditing countries such as the United Kingdom; particularly around the matters of fair trials, political interference in the legal process and assurances over human rights for those being extradited.”[31]

David Clark, former special advisor to Labour Foreign Secretary Robin Cook, claimed in an essay for The Fabian Society that, “Adamescu angered the Romanian authorities by repeatedly challenging their treatment of his father, so they orchestrated his arrest… No evidence of criminal wrongdoing has been presented and none is needed under the EAW… The fact that the EAW mechanism can be used by foreign governments to pursue political grudges and suppress free speech on British soil shows that a successor agreement is needed that will include stronger human rights safeguards.”[32]

Calls for Reform of Romanian Justice System[edit | hide | edit source]

The Adamescu case has been referred to by senior journalists, academics and think tanks as an indication of the need for major reform of the Romanian justice system. 

According to The Times, “his case has fuelled concerns that Romania, which joined the European Union in 2007, risks slipping inexorably back into the repression of Nicolae Ceausescu’s communist regime.”[9]

A special report for the Central European Journal of International and Security Studies (CEJISS) – European Union at Risk: The Judiciary Under Attack in Romania – stated that “Many of the methods used by the Communists in Romania pre-1989 to create a politicised system of justice and law enforcement are still in existence in contemporary Romania.” It highlighted the Adamescu case as providing “a worrying insight into the way that the Romanian legal and security authorities operate”.[33]

A report for the Henry Jackson Society – Fighting Corruption with Con Tricks: Romania’s Assault on the Rule of Law – cites the Adamescu case as an example of the Romanian anti-corruption drive “providing convenient cover for acts of political score settling and serious human rights violations. The methods used show a considerable degree of continuity with the practices and attitudes of the communist era.”[34]

References[edit | hide | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 "European Arrest Warrant 'targeting innocent British resident'". The Telegraph. Retrieved 2017-05-28.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Ramirez, Luis. "Britain arrest of Romanian dissident's son raises questions about European Arrest Warrant". VOA. Retrieved 2017-05-28.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Boyes, Roger. "Romania is becoming the EU's outlaw state". Retrieved 2017-05-28.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 "On the tragic and unjust death of Dan Adamescu - Reaction". Reaction. 2017-01-26. Retrieved 2017-05-28.
  5. 5.0 5.1 ^
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  7. 7.0 7.1 "Businessman fears he will die in prison like his father if he is extradited to Romania". The Telegraph. Retrieved 2017-05-28.
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  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 Brown, Chad Greggor, David. "Playwright snared by law he backed". Retrieved 2017-05-28.
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  11. "Damien Phillips: The European Arrest Warrant empowers Romania's tyrants. The Prime Minister should junk it. | Conservative Home". Conservative Home. Retrieved 2017-05-28.
  12. "Jailed Romanian millionaire Dan Adamescu risks losing his life, says relative". Business Review. 2016-12-27. Retrieved 2017-05-28.
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  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 Friends of Alexander Adamescu (2017-03-05), European Arrest Warrant (EAW) Event at the Frontline Club, retrieved 2017-05-28
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  16. "Open Letter from Alexander Adamescu - Friends of Alexander Adamescu". Friends of Alexander Adamescu. 2017-02-03. Retrieved 2017-05-28.
  17. Hencke, David. "How Romania's inhumane prison system led to the tragic death of a campaigning newspaper owner". Retrieved 2017-05-28.
  18. "#Romania: Leading businessman Dan Adamescu dies in prison". EU Reporter. Retrieved 2017-05-28.
  19. "Dan Adamescu was "killed" by judges and prosecutors, says ex-president Basescu". Business Review. 2017-01-25. Retrieved 2017-05-28.
  20. 20.0 20.1 20.2 20.3 20.4 "#Romania condemned over refusal to comply with international ruling". EU Reporter. Retrieved 2017-05-28.
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  24. "PETER OBORNE: This is NOT the time for ugly political opportunism". Mail Online. Retrieved 2017-05-28.
  25. 25.0 25.1 "The case that shows why we must not stay in the European Arrest Warrant | The Spectator". The Spectator. 2016-09-03. Retrieved 2017-05-28.
  26. Clark, David (2017-01-10). "Romania's corruption fight is a smokescreen to weaken its democracy". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2017-05-28.
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  28. Leach, Graeme (2016-12-08). "Undermining property rights and individual liberty is economic suicide". Retrieved 2017-05-28.
  29. "Brexit will set our justice system free - CapX". CapX. 2016-10-11. Retrieved 2017-05-28.
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