Managers Involved in Chemical Scandal Jailed
VIENNA, Austria (AP) _ Seven people were sentenced in Bucharest to terms ranging from 11 to 18 years in prison for involvement in a high-level chemical storage scandal, the state Romanian news agency Agerpres reported Monday.
Among those jailed was a representative of a Liechtenstein firm.
The scandal, first publicized last month, led to the dismissal of six senior government officials including the minister of trade, the head of the state planning office and the head of the general customs directorate.
Agerpres said the verdict was handed down Saturday at the end of a two-day trial at the Bucharest city court. It said the seven were found guilty of ″grave abuses and violations.″
The news agency said more than 4,000 tons of chemical and petrochemical wastes that were ″highly noxious for the population’s health and the environment″ had entered the country illegally.
The scandal involves the Kimika company of Liechtenstein which was accused of storing the chemical industrial waste in the free port of Sulina on Romania’s Black Sea coast.
The Romanian foreign trade enterprise Chimica reportedly concluded a contract with the Liecthenstein-based firm for using the chemicals in Romania.
According to Agerpres, the harshest sentence of 18 years in prison was handed down to Hugo Weinstein, the Kimika representative. Agerpres said the court concluded that Weinstein had received ″a considerable amount of foreign currency from the foreign firm to conclude the contracts.″
It was not clear from the Agerpres report whether Weinstein was a Liechtenstein citizen and whether he was at the trial. Efforts to reach officials in Bucharest for comment on the report proved unavailing.
The news agency said two former managers of the Sulina port, Dumitru Gavanescu and Silviu Nistor, each was given 11 years and a third Sulina ex- manager, Mihai Micu, drew 13 years.
Two ex-managers of the Romanian foreign trade enterprise Chimica, Ioan Tetu and Ion Rupedeal, each was sentenced to 12 years. Virgil Popescu, also of Chimica, drew 14 years.
Agerpres said the court concluded that the seven ″committed highly serious crimes by flagrantly violating the legal norms that forbid the bringing-in of dangerous or harmful commodities apt to place public health and the environment in jeapordy.″
It said the defendents can appeal.
The news agency said ″negative consequences of the abusive and illegal acts″ were prevented by ″efficient intervention of the state bodies.″