Blatant abuses in Romanian Supreme Court

Blatant abuses in Romanian Supreme Court. Founder of largest yoga movement in Romania sentenced to 6 years in prison.

Yoga teacher Gregorian Bivolaru

Gregorian Bivolaru, famous political dissident of the Ceausescu regime and founder of the largest yoga movement in Romania, was sentenced on 14 June 2013 by the Romanian Supreme Court to 6 years in prison. He was convicted for sexual relation with a minor. The charge was formulated in result of an unprecedented police attack on 18 March 2004 when 300 masked and heavily armed policemen raided 16 private homes of yoga practitioners. The said minor was unlawfully retained by police, tortured and forced to testify against the defendant. She returned the very next morning to the prosecutors office together with her lawyer, withdrew the testimony which she was forced to give and filed a complaint against prosecutors. Her request was denied and she was dragged through courts for 9 years, serving as a victim in the process against Bivolaru, with whom she continuously denied having sexual relations. Several years ago she urged international human rights organization to help her, since all attempts to respect her rights failed in Romania and her life became an ordeal because of Romanian prosecutors, judges and media.

In the last trial session on 14 June 2013 she tried once again to step out of the case by filing one more affidavit stating she never had sexual relations to Bivolaru, was never seduced or trafficked by him and that she does not have any complaints against him. The judge harshly refused the declaration, offensively mentioning that such declarations at the end of the trial are unacceptable and immediately ruled the conviction of Bivolaru.

In 2005, after a thorough examination of Swedish Supreme Court of the very same case, Bivolaru obtained political asylum inSweden because of abuses in Romania. The defendant never had the chance to testify in the case at the Romanian Court. He had repeatedly requested to testify in front of a rogatory commission. The judge long postponed the examination of this request and when he finally accepted it, soon after he changed his mind and refused to wait for the rogatory commission, accusing Swedish authorities of “superficiality and lack of seriousness”.

The case against Bivolaru is a clear example of totalitarian practices used to dismantle unwanted social movements. From the very first stages it was corroborated with authorities and media to create a campaign of slandering, denigration and marginalization of yoga practitioners. Even when the court had finally agreed to keep the sessions secret, to protect the parties in the case, evidences and testimonies continued to be systematically leaked to press and used to demonize the yoga movement.

Protests against persecutions of MISA

The grand act of the media-court collaboration took place right before the last trial. In a suddenly announced press conference, which the defense lawyers were denied to attend, the judge Ionut Matei together with the president of the Supreme Court, judge Livia Stanciu, announced that there was an anonymous letter threatening judge Matei if he would convict Bivolaru. It was the first official press conference on such subject, even though, as declared by Ms. Stanciu herself, judges of Supreme Court often receive anonymous letters.

The staged character of the press conference was also underlined by the statement of the judge, that he will not get intimidated and will file the letter as an evidence to the case (to remind here that he refused to file the affidavit of the alleged victim).

The peculiar bias of the court and of the media is proven at least by that fact that shocking statements of witnesses, who declared that at the beginning of the investigation they were manipulated by prosecution to testify against Bivolaru, were all left without any attention. Nor had media covered the many human rights abuses perpetrated in the case, nor did it publish the findings of the Swedish Supreme Court when denying the extradition of Bivolaru or the appeal of European authorities requestingRomania to ensure democratic standards in the case.

Media had systematically engaged in slandering of yoga practitioners, which resulted into an elaborate discrimination, unacknowledged or denied by authorities, leaving yoga practitioners with no institutional support. Now that the Supreme Court of Romania convicted Bivolaru abusing the norms of a democratic judiciary, it may trigger a large scale violence, direct and structural, against tens thousands yogis in Romania.

The decision of the Supreme Court is a blatant offence of European democratic norms. It is a clear message that Romania has no intention to adhere to European standards. Romanian Supreme Court has no respect for such standards, since it accuses Swedish authorities of “superficiality and lack of seriousness”. Nor does Romania care about the opinion of the European Union, since representatives of all political groups in the European Parliament, as well as representatives of the European Commission, expressed concerns regarding the case.

European Community should evermore strengthen the verification mechanisms applied to Romania since such blatant violations of human rights are absolutely unacceptable in a democratic society. Romanian Court is far from being a warrant of human rights and citizens of Romania continue to live under the threat of totalitarian practices.