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Gigi Becali, the rags-to-riches politician and businessman, has been given a suspended three-year sentence for involvement in kidnapping.
A Bucharest courthouse on Monday gave Gigi Becali, a controversial businessman and owner of the Steaua football club, a suspended three year jail sentence for his involvement in a kidnapping case.
Becali, 55, who is also a member of parliament from the ruling National Liberal Party, PNL, announced his resignation from the party. He also told a TV station that he was considering leaving Romania for good.
The case started almost four years ago, when Becali was arrested on charges of kidnapping three men who allegedly stole his car. Four of his bodyguards were also arrested.
Police said Becali and his employees attacked the three men in January 2009, surrounding their vehicle and threatening them with guns before bundling them into the trunk of a car. The three were then allegedly driven to a village outside Bucharest and left there.
Becali called the charges a set-up, claiming the men had stolen his expensive car and were trying to extort money for its return.
From his humble beginnings as a shepherd, Becali made his fortune in real estate after the fall of Communism to become one of Romania's richest men.
But he has continuously courted controversy with his far right views, and as a former member of the European Parliament he was repeatedly fined for making racist and sexist remarks. He once called the black TV presenter "an ape".
He is also facing another trial on charges of graft and unlawful confinement.
The Hague Tribunal has been successful in bringing wartime commanders to justice but hasn’t met expectations on reconciliation, chief prosecutor Serge Brammertz told BIRN.