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Adrian Nastase could soon wind up his two-year jail term for corruption, after serving just eight months behind bars.
A Bucharest courthouse on Tuesday decided that former Prime Minister Adrian Nastase should be released from prison for good conduct.
"The court took into consideration Nastase’s good behaviour and the fact that he has written a book while behind bars. Furthermore, he is over 60, so is entitled to a reduction in his sentence by law,” Gheorghita Mateut, Nastase’s lawyer, said.
Prosecutors have already disputed the decision, which is not ultimate, and a final verdict is expected in the coming days.
Last month, the parole board of Jilava prison, near Bucharest, decided Nastase could get a 45-day reduction in his jail sentence for corruption as he had penned a book, which has since been published by a renowned publishing house.
Nastase is no stranger to life as an author. A former law professor, he previously published several books on law and international relations.
After years of legal wrangling, Nastase was given a definitive two-year jail sentence for corruption in June 2012. The former premier tried to shoot himself in the neck while police took him into custody.
A policeman grabbed the gun and prevented him from inflicting more serious injuries. But one bullet penetrated his neck, just missing a key artery, doctors said.
Following his recovery, he was sent to Jilava prison to serve his sentence.
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.
Nastase was Prime Minister from December 2000 to December 2004 and stood for the Social Democratic Party, PSD, in the 2004 presidential election.
Nastase has faced other corruption allegations. In April 2012, 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.
In December 2011, 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.
To keep its reform policy credible for investors, the government must find common ground with the IMF and look for a new arrangement, experts say.