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News 22 Jun 12

Romania Ex-PM Stable After Suicide Attempt

Adrian Nastase is in a stable situation after trying to shoot himself in the neck, but he will have to stay some weeks in hospital, doctors have said.

Marian Chiriac
Bucharest

Former Prime Minister Adrian Nastase, who shot himself on June 20 evening in an attempt to avoid being arrested, underwent surgery on Thursday and is now in a stable condition, according to official reports.

He will have to stay for two weeks in hospital, however. “We have just tried to deal with Mr Nastase’s bullets wounds. Unfortunately he has other serious health issues, including heart and diabetes problems, so needs a recovery period,” a doctor from the Floreasca hospital in Bucharest said.

Nastase, who will be 62 on Friday, shot himself a few hours after Romania’s highest court confirmed that he will have to serve a two-year jail sentence for corruption.

While police were at his home, preparing to take him into custody, Nastase tried to shoot himself in the neck. A policeman grabbed the gun and prevented him from inflicting more serious injuries.

But one bullet penetrated his neck though it just missed a key artery, doctors said.

Nastase was found guilty of using around 1.6 million euro from the state budget to finance his 2004 presidential campaign. Five other defendants tried in the same case were sentenced to five or six years in prison.

The apparent suicide bid caused shock across the country. Many people, including politicians, described it as “shocking” and as “a tragedy”.

President Traian Basescu, a long-time opponent of Nastase, called at the hospital and asked about his situation, wishing him a speedy recovery.

Nastase was Prime Minister from December 2000 to December 2004 and stood as the Social Democratic Party, PSD, candidate in the 2004 presidential election. He was defeated by the centre-right candidate, Basescu.

Nastase has faced other corruption allegations. In April he was given a three-year suspended jail sentence for blackmail but was cleared of corruption in a case that dragged on for over six years. Last December he was cleared in another corruption case, concerning a 300,000 euro inheritance from his wife’s aunt.

Romania is still considered one of the most corrupt states in the European Union and has made only limited progress in fighting corruption and organised crime since it joined the EU in 2007.

Bucharest has drawn repeated criticism from the European Commission for its failure to tackle corruption.

But in recent months, the number of high-ranking officials sentenced for graft has increased significantly.

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