The Abuses Against M.I.S.A. During the Penal Procedures

misa case spiritual human rights abuses

COURT CASE 405/85/2005

Established as a not-profit association in January 1990, the association (Miscarea pentru Integrare Sprituala in Absolut – The Movement for Spiritual Integration in the Absolute) has a social – professional, philosophical, educational nature, aimed at raising the spiritual level of people by promoting the yoga theories and practices.

Short introduction

MISA's mentor, Gregorian Bivolaru, and other disciples, have been pursued, arrested and beaten by the former Securitate since the 1970s. Unfortunately, the pursuit of MISA's leader continued beyond 1989, when the investigations were pushed by the neo-communist regime that was implemented after the Romanian revolution.

The facts

The most important official action against MISA took place in March 2004, in an operation called “CHRIST” by the authorities.
On March 18, 2004, a few hundred officials (among them gendarmes, police officers, and prosecutors) entered by force into several private properties of different yoga practitioners which were organized like Indian ashrams (places where people live and follow a spiritual practice). During the action, several abuses were made:



    misa case spiritual human rights abuses
  • The police forces entered and physically broke most of the doors and many windows of the buildings, even if they were open, thus destroying important parts of the properties. The right to protection of property and to peacefully enjoy the property was not respected.
  • Video recordings of the raids were freely offered to the TV stations and the whole country could see a lot of people pushed out of their beds under the threat of machine guns (many of them were foreign nationals). The yogis were not asked for their consent before being broadcasted on TV. Also they were not allowed to put their cloths on. Thus the right to dignity and respect was broken.
  • Dozens of people were taken directly to the prosecutor's office, intimidated and interrogated without being allowed access to a lawyer. They were announced at the end what their position was (witness, victim or defendant).
  • The so-called victim (Madalina Dumitru) in the file (405/85/2005) was taken directly from her bed, filmed without clothes on with a firearm pointing at her, forced to the prosecutor's office, intimidated, almost beaten (pulled by the hair, pushed, etc), and then obligated to write a complaint dictated by the prosecutor. During this time she was not allowed to leave the room, contact a person, a lawyer, etc. Even if she came with a lawyer right after being freed and made a proper declaration which quashed the previous complaint, she was not taken into consideration and a whole penal trial was set based on the first document she wrote. Another very important abuse which is in fact a crime in the Romanian Penal Code was that Madalina Dumitru was detained against her will for several days, during which the prosecutors wanted to illegally coerce her to sign declarations and take medical tests. The actions were coordinated by the case prosecutor Delcea Marian.
  • Huge amounts of belongings were seized from the private spaces of the people without connection to the theme of the search and without being written down on the official papers. Among them there were: ID papers, official documents and contracts, home and motor-vehicle, property deeds, accounting paperwork, money, jewels, computers, video-, photo-cameras, clothes, watches, underwear, shoes, books and magazines, phones, bank cards, vacuum cleaners, etc. The right for property which is guaranteed by the ECHR was broken again.
  • Over 100 official requests were sent to the prosecutors for the restitution of the personal belongings. All of them were rejected on grounds that the goods “may be related to the case”.
  • Another 55 criminal petitions were submitted that year and none of them was ever investigated but quashed. Even if the yogis made public protests every month since 2004. But not even in 2012, after 8 years of protests, is there any investigation going on, and after so many years less than 1/3 of the goods were sent back to their owners.

misa case spiritual human rights abusesSomething else completely illegal happened again - the full Prosecution disclosure papers were posted online and made public by the criminal investigative body, something that, apart from violating the right to have their case heard by a fair court and the right to privacy of the people investigated, could be looked at as yet another instance of public manipulation. 
Arrest warrants were issued in Gregorian Bivolaru's name. The MISA mentor had to leave Romania and go to Sweden. He was fully granted political asylum and the right to work, etc in Sweden. 
The Supreme Court of Stockholm also ordered expert analyzes about MISA, during the trial, which concluded that the organization is a peaceful one and does not conflict with the law in any way. It was also concluded by the court that Gregorian Bivolaru is persecuted in Romania and doesn't benefit from a fair trial but is discriminated on the grounds of religious beliefs.  
In the criminal file built up in 2004 and 2005, Gregorian Bivolaru was declared innocent by 2 inferior courts in Romania.

The final decision is about to be made by the highest court of Romania (Inalta Curte de Casatie si Justitie) and the authorities still try to cover the mistakes of the past by playing a dirty game. All the courts involved in judging this file asked for the official papers that allowed the authorities to listen to these phone calls but they were all refused by the prosecutors. They motivated that they can not give the documents because they are classified (National Security). In the last meeting in court before the decision some illegal documents were introduced in the file. In fact they are the warrants that had been used by the Romanian Information Service to listen to the phone calls of the yogis many years before the criminal investigations even started. Examining the documents it was noticed that there were illegalities contained from the very beginning:

  • The first warrant (no. 2061/13.11.2002) was issued at the request of the RIS (Serviciul Roman de Informatii – which is the new face of the feared communist intel Securitate). In this document, Gregorian Bivolaru and the other yogis were categorized as an extremist organization (even if they have nothing to do with this kind of activity and there was never any proof of that). Even RIS never admitted that MISA was an extremist organism which only proves that they are using these terms whenever they want because it allows them to make abuses against anyone, and get warrants against any person or organization. There were other cases also in the last years where it was revealed that the main intelligence service of the country was using in-rightful motivations, like “national security” in order to invade private people's life and spy on them.
  • The second warrant (no. 923/09.05.2003) was issued as an approval for continuation of another warrant (no. 214/ 11.02.2003 which was never revealed and remains a mystery).  The last approval was given for three months, from 13th may 2003 to 12 august 2003. Given the fact that all of them were issued on matters regarding “national security” and between the last approval and the beginning of the criminal investigation there were a lot of months past, this proves that the phone calls surveillance was illegal all the time because MISA had nothing contradictory with the national security rules. It also proves that the whole action was illegal because Gregorian Bivolaru was accused of committing ordinary crimes, which RIS is not allowed to investigate.
  • Huge sums of money from the public budget were spent for these surveillance which was illegal from the start, in periods when the country is not doing so well with the economy.
  • The fact that the RIS avoided for years to present the court any thread of evidence regarding the right to intercept the phone calls of MISA members shows very clearly that they knew about their illegalities and this is why they came up with something only in the last phase of the trial, when Gregorian Bivolaru is about to be found innocent for good.

misa case spiritual human rights abuses
There are important issues that indicate that the prosecutors working in the case are trying to play illegal right in the last part before the final verdict:

  1. The prosecutor presented to the Court several times transcribes of phone conversations supposedly between the defendant and other persons without presenting also the warrant that gave the right to surveillance those conversations.
  2. The Courts have asked several times during the 8 years of research and trial for the warrants to be presented by the prosecutors, and the last ones refused to do so motivating that the papers were matter of national security and they are Top Secret.
  3. The prosecutors presented two partial warrants in the last court meeting before the last, final and decisive verdict (so after the inferior courts have already pronounced him innocent twice).
  4. The warrants give surveillance approvals for periods of time that do not fit with the periods right before the criminal investigations or during the criminal investigations(with other words the periods of the real surveillance and the period of the approved surveillance do not coincide).
  5. The warrants refer to activities of  “extremist” people, and not to ordinary offenses. The RIS does not have jurisdiction for ordinary crimes, like the ones Gregorian Bivolaru was accused of. The RIS has jurisdiction for national security matters, and such a file against Mr. G. Bivolaru was never brought to court. Therefore warrants from an in-existent case file (regarding national security) can't be used in ordinary criminal investigations, because surveillance approvals are given by the Court specifically for every case.
  6. The warrants are incomplete. None of them were presented with the relevant supporting documents, which are made prior to the approval of the surveillance, in order to explain the importance of the request, and the proofs that sustain the necessity of the surveillance.
  7. One of the most important issues is that the two warrants are not linked to each other. The warrant 2061/13.11.2002 is signed by Mr. Piciorus Ilie and gives surveillance approval for three months. The second warrant, no.923/09.05.2003 approves the prolongation of the surveillance approval from another warrant (which doesn't exist, or hasn't been presented), and the fact that it does not contain the name of the approving person makes it illegal according to the Romanian Code of Penal Procedures.

Many illegal actions were performed during this investigation:
illegal arrest and abusive investigation; threats; unfair repression; breaking and entering; destruction of property; abuse of office against personal interest; abuse of office by restricting certain rights; attempt to convincing people to give untrue testimony; abusive conduct;

and many human rights and international principles were broken:
banning of torture; right to freedom; right to a fair trial; right to privacy and family life; freedom of thinking, conscience and religion; freedom of speech; freedom of meeting and association; banning discrimination; protection of the right for property.