Angela Istrate, lawyer for two DA activists that got prison times in two separate cases on Wednesday says both sentences represent miscarriages of justice.
In the case of Sergiu Cebotari, a former deputy director of Moldova Mail who got eight years in prison in absentia, Istrate claims the sentence was completely ill-founded. “The accusations brought against Cebotari are civilian in nature, not criminal. They involve the failure to pay some salaries, which definitely doesn’t qualify as forced labor”, the lawyer told Natalia Morari’s Politics show on TV8.
Cebotari, who gained the reputation of a whistleblower, is now a fugitive and considers seeking political asylum abroad. Meanwhile, his lawyer says the sentence will be appealed.
Before joining the DA party, Cebotari attempted to expose a mail-operated steroid trafficking ring that he alleged was protected by his Moldova Mail’s boss and the latter’s Democratic Party’s patrons. Cebotari ended up being arrested himself, just as he was heading to Parliament to present his evidence.
Angela Istrate says her second client, Gheorghe Petic, was also unjustly sentenced, as there was no rape. Istrate also says the proceedings have been riddled with procedural violations against her client and herself. Moreover, the lawyer claims she is being intimidated.
“We will appeal both sentences. Neither of my clients is guilty of the accusations brought against them”, stated Istrati.
A former border police colonel, Gheorghe Petic also attempted to expose an alleged cigarette trafficking scheme across the border with Romania, before being himself prosecuted. First he faced charges for a bar brawl that happened 15 years ago. Then, last October he was accused of raping a young woman. While awaiting his sentence, Petic ran for Parliament on NOW’s ticket, but wasn’t allowed out of custody to be able to actually participate in the campaign. Eventually, his place on the list proved not high enough to earn him an MP seat.
Lilia Carasciuc, executive director of Transparency International Moldova, considers Gheorghe Petic and Sergiu Cebotari to be two whistleblowers who received exemplary punishments. “Two people that had the courage to accuse high-level government officials of corruption, of anabolic steroid and cigarette trafficking”, Carasciuc said during the same talk show.