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Former Romanian Prime Minister shoots and wounds himself

Former Prime Minister Adrian Nastase shot himself hours after it was ruled that he must serve a two-year prison sentence on corruption charges.

Image: AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda, File

A ROMANIAN EX-PRIME Minister shot and wounded himself yesterday in an apparent suicide attempt, hours after the country’s highest court ruled that he must serve a two-year prison sentence on corruption charges, the country’s current premier said.

Former Prime Minister Adrian Nastase would be Romania’s most senior politician to serve time in prison since the 1989 fall of communism.

He had appealed a March 30 court ruling that sentenced him to prison for illegally raising funds for a failed presidential campaign, but the Supreme Court upheld the sentence, sending shockwaves through the country.

National news agency Agerpres reported that the General Prosecutor’s office said it was investigating a suicide attempt by the former prime minister.

Prime Minister Victor Ponta, a close ally, visited Nastase at the hospital and said his condition was “under control.”

Ponta would not detail Nastase’s wound, but the Antena 3 and Mediafax news agencies said he shot himself in the neck after police arrived at his home to arrest him.

Images broadcast on Antena 3 showed Nastase being brought carried out of an ambulance into the hospital on a stretcher covered with a blue blanket. His lawyer, Ion Cazacu, said Nastase was conscious when he saw him at the hospital.

I spoke to him after the court ruling and he was calm and responsible.

Serban Bradisteanu, a doctor at the hospital, said that doctors would likely operate on Nastase later today after his vital functions had been stabilised. He said Nastase could speak, but with difficulty.

Nastase, who will be 62 tomorrow, has insisted that the case against him is politically motivated and indicated he will take it to the European Court of Human Rights. He has claimed that the sentence was unjust, and that his eight-year-trial felt like a prison sentence of its own.

Nastase was prime minister from 2000 to 2004 and headed the Social Democracy Party from 2000 to 2005. He also served as foreign minister from 1990 to 1992, and was also parliamentary speaker.

As the news of the high court ruling broke, some Romanians rejoiced at the imprisonment of such a powerful figure, while others said they were dumbfounded.

Judges found Nastase guilty of using fees that he charged companies and state agencies to attend a conference for his unsuccessful 2004 run for the presidency.

- Alison Mutler

Read: Romanian PM resigns amid opposition criticism and anti-austerity protests>

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