In 2014 Dan Adamescu was arrested on charges of corruption; he was accused of bribing two judges overseeing a business insolvency case. He was later convicted and sentenced to four years in prison.
Dan Adamescu died on January 24th, 2017 at the age of 68. His death followed detention in horrific, medieval conditions in a Romanian prison after his conviction in a day-long show trial. Not content with killing one member of the Adamescu family, the Romanian authorities have issued a European Arrest Warrant against Dan’s son, Alexander Adamescu.
This page goes into the detail of the case, publishing original documents starting from the pre-trial detention hearing, as well as the evidence presented against Dan Adamescu. In each case a certified English translation is provided – please get in touch if you would like the original Romanian language documents.
- Arrest, charges and decision to remand in custody
- The farce of the trial
- Request for probation
- Dan Adamescu’s witness statement
- After Dan Adamescu’s death
Arrest, charges, and decision to remand in custody
The case against Dan Adamescu begins with his arrest in June 2014, and a hearing in judges’ chambers to determine whether or not he should be remanded in custody while he awaited trial. These documents include all sides of the case – the prosecution’s interpretation of the evidence, the defence’s refutation of that interpretation, and the judge’s decision to remand Adamescu in custody.
1) Decision to remand in custody
This document is the official record of the conversation in judges’ chambers where the decision to remand Dan Adamescu in custody, after he had been charged, was made. It covers all of the evidence against Adamescu, showing how little and questionable the evidence actually was.
- A telephone transcript (full copy below) shows Adamescu finding a lawyer for his employee to take to a DNA interrogation – this was interpreted by prosecutors as being proof that he was attempting to influence a witness.
- The witness statements of the people involved in the bribery, one of which, Daniel Onute, claimed to have acted on Adamescu’s behalf (with no other evidence of this). Other witnesses said they understood Mr Onute was acting on Adamescu’s behalf, but had not heard this from Adamescu.
- The decision to remand Adamescu in custody was made essentially because Adamescu was wealthy and the judge supposed it would look bad for him to be released on bail.
Download: Decision to remand in custody
2) Telephone transcripts
This is a translation of the transcripts of telephone conversations between Dan Adamescu and his chief financial officer Daniella Firestain, as well as conversations between Dan Adamescu, lawyers and another member of his staff.
The Romanian prosecutors presented these conversations as a key plank of the evidence against Dan Adamescu, claiming they proved that Adamescu had tried to influence Ms Firestain during the investigation. But what the series of conversations actually show is Adamescu ringing round his contacts to find a lawyer for Ms Firestain to take into an interrogation by the DNA (and to arrange a car to take her and a lawyer to the DNA). The final transcript is after Ms Firestain has been interviewed by the DNA, and shows Adamescu asking her how she got on.
Download: Telephone transcripts
3) Adamescu’s appeal against remand
This document was submitted to the court deciding on whether or not to remand Dan Adamescu in custody, and refutes the conclusions of the evidence gathered by prosecutors.
- It explains that the motivation of the key witness, Mr Onute, to denounce Adamescu is because Mr Onute himself admits illegal actions and gained immunity for accusing Adamescu.
- It explains that other witnesses either do not claim to have been acting on the orders of Adamescu or else never even met Adamescu.
- It argues that it is unreasonable for prosecutors to suggest Adamescu must have known what the money was being spent on, when usual practice is for insolvency proceedings to be handled by employees of such a large business, and the money was presented as bills from lawyers.
- This document also challenges the idea that Adamescu was attempting to influence Ms Firestain, and appeals the grounds on which Adamescu was refused bail.
Download: Adamescu’s appeal against remand
4) The remand hearing
This document from August 2014 details the appeal from Dan Adamescu (and two other defendants in the case) to be released from prison ahead of his trial, to a less restrictive control method such as house arrest.
In the document we see that Adamescu’s lawyer explained why Adamescu should be released from prison before the trial:
- Adamescu made no effort to interfere with the investigation before, and can be relied to not try to interfere with it in the future. Regardless, the phase of the investigation in which he could interfere with if he wanted to was completed at this point.
- Adamescu had no previous criminal record and was well integrated into Romanian society, there is no indication that he would try to leave.
- Finally, the lawyer presented evidence of Adamescu’s serious ill health, which made prison detention particularly difficult for him.
Judge Ghita decides that Adamescu should stay in prison because:
“[Adamescu is] still challenging the perpetration of the crimes they are being tried for and the existence of any evidence from which such a reasonable presumption would result from.”
Essentially, asserting his innocence before his trial had started meant that Adamescu was not released.
This file also gives an overview of the entire bribery case and the evidence and actors in it, exposing how little evidence there is against Adamescu – just the word of one man who admits his own guilt, but was not prosecuted in return for denouncing Adamescu.
Download: The remand hearing
The farce of the trial
Dan Adamescu’s trial was akin to a farce. The judge focused on the evidence of a single discredited witness and ignored all evidence, witness statements, and logic that contradicted that witness. When you examine the evidence below you will conclude that there is little wonder that Dan Adamescu’s trial has been highlighted by a series of human rights NGOs as falling short of the standards expected in a free society.
Read more: Dan Adamescu’s trial
1) Defence submissions
These two documents were submitted by Adamescu’s defence team, and together explain why the prosecution’s evidence does not prove that Adamescu is guilty.
- It highlights a number of contradictions in the evidence, including where witnesses say contradictory things in different statements.
- It highlights places where procedures were violated in the investigation, for example witnesses being allowed to confer on their story whilst at DNA offices.
- It explains that the key people in the case – including the judges who were bribed – do not mention dealing with Dan Adamescu at all. Other witnesses say that they only had it from Daniel Onute that Adamescu approved, never Adamescu himself.
Download: Conclusions of the defence
Download: Rebuttal of the evidence
2) Exonerating witness statements
A series of other witnesses involved in the insolvency case show that Dan Adamescu was not involved in day-to-day decisions about the companies involved. Instead, they name Daniel Onute – the only witness against Adamescu – as managing all financial matters.
These witnesses challenge the prosecution’s assertion that Adamescu ‘must have’ known and endorsed the bribery because he was directly managing the process. However, the trial judge decided to ignore these witness statements entirely.
Mircea-Mihai Ionescu, general director of Baumeister:
Ionescu explains how the management of the companies was handled, and says that Daniel Onute and Daniela Firestain managed financial arrangements.
Download: Mircea-Mihai Ionescu statement
Daniel Catalin Ivan, general director of Megaconstruct:
- In the early stages of the investigation Alexander Adamescu said that it was ‘politics related’.
- During the insolvency procedures Dan Adamescu asked Onute and Firestain how much money he would lose if the legal case was lost. He did not hear any mention of bribery despite being closely involved in the discussions.
- It was he who relayed a message from Firestain to Adamescu, where the former requested the latter find her a lawyer. This backs up Adamescu’s story that he was not trying to influence Firestain.
Lilica Poppa, lawyer:
Poppa was the owner of the law firm that worked with several of Adamescu’s businesses, and employed George Claudiu Dumitru, the lawyer at the centre of the bribery case.
- The main legal fees for the management of the Baumeister contract were arranged between Poppa and Alexander Adamescu, and that further fees were negotiated by Daniel Onute and Dumitru.
- Dumitru himself negotiated the legal fees for managing Baumeister’s insolvency case, despite this overstepping his authority and Poppa requesting to have oversight of the negotiation.
- Explains that a sum of money transferred from Dumitru to Poppa that has been speculated as being used for bribes was actually to settle a debt.
Download: Lilica Poppa statement
3) Appeal against conviction
This document sets out the grounds for the defence’s appeal of Dan Adamescu’s sentence. It challenges the legal basis for the sentence given to Adamescu, challenges the evidence against Adamescu, and argues that the court has reached conclusions not supported by the evidence.
- It argues that the sentence against Adamescu was illegal, as it imposed penaltities under a legal code which did not apply.
- It follows the trail of money from the company to the judge, showing that Daniel Onute acted alone on behalf of the business.
- It also shows that the amount taken from Adamescu’s business greatly exceeds the amount that was eventually given to a judge. Every other actor in the chain (including Onute) benefitted financially from this transaction.
- It argues that the motivation for the transaction was to defraud Adamescu’s company, and that Onute, Dumitru and the insolvency practitioner (Borza) were conspiring in this fraud.
- It notes that if Adamescu’s aim was to bribe a judge, why would he use a method that cost five times the amount of the actual bribe to do? It does not make any sense.
- It highlights several cases where the court concluded that witness statements corroborate each other, but where as a matter of record they contradict each other.
- It concludes by again questioning the reliability of Onute as a witness – he has a great incentive (saving his own skin) to lie and support the DNA’s politically motivated prosecution.
Download: Appeal against conviction
Request for probation
Under Romanian law prisoners over the age of 60 are able to request probation after serving one third of their sentence. When Dan Adamescu reached this stage of his sentence he lodged a request for probation. This request was rejected repeatedly on the grounds that Adamescu had not participated enough to show his correction, and considerd it irrelevant that Adamescu was so ill that he was bedridden, had contracted serious sepsis, and was in hospital. Shortly after Adamescu’s appeal was rejected he entered a coma, and just a month later, on 24th January 2017, he died.
1) Jilava prison hearing
This was the first stage in the request for probation. This document records the prison committee’s discussion of Adamescu’s possible release, as well as providing details of the programmes he participated in whilst in prison. It concludes he cannot be released.
Dowload: Jilava prison hearing
2) Court probation hearing
This document further details Dan Adamescu’s serious ill health, including that he is immobilised in bed, has had a number of falls, and has been hospitalised. The court concludes that Adamescu’s health is irrelevant, that he should have done more to show correction, and that he cannot be released on probation.
Download: Court probation hearing
3) Appeal for probation
In this appeal all of the evidence from previous hearings is looked at again, the same conclusions reached, and the request rejected again. It was only days after this hearing that Dan Adamescu entered a coma he would never wake from.
Download: Appeal for probation
4) Catalin Breazu’s statement
Breazu was Dan Adamescu’s lawyer throughout his trial and managed the requests for probation detailed above. This witness statement was provided to corroborate claims made by Dan Adamescu in a statement which was then used by his son, Alexander Adamescu, in extradition proceedings.
- It confirms submissions regarding Dan Adamescu’s ill health, detention conditions, and claims that he did not received medication whilst detained.
- It highlights that the prison did not provide the special diet for diabetes that Adamescu required according to his medical notes, and that this affected his health more broadly.
- It explains the process of requesting release on probation after Adamescu had become eligible. It says that the court did not fairly examine the evidence regarding Adamescu’s participation in prison.
- It says it was “cruel condemnation to death” to refuse to release Adamescu when he was fighting for his life.
- It argues that if Alexander Adamescu is extradited to Romania he will not receive a fair trial.
Download: Catalin Breazu statement
Dan Adamescu’s witness statement
This statement details the treatment of Dan Adamescu from his own point of view. It offers and overview of the background of the dispute between Adamescu and the Romanian Social Democratic Party (PSD), and explains what happened through his arrest and trial.
The statement then goes on to explain how Adamescu’s health deteriorated whilst in prison, and the ways in which the conditions he was incarcerated in and the denial of proper medical treatement hastened his decline.
- It notes that the trial and appeal were not conducted properly. During the trial Adamescu’s lawyer was not allowed by the judge to fully cross-examine the key witness. At the appeal, the key witness was not required to attend, leaving questions as to how valid the appeal hearing was.
- It draws attention to the fact that in Germany, where Adamescu was a citizen, he was considered 100% disabled, and that the German embassy had written to the Romanian authorities on multiple occasions asking for Adamescu to receive medical treatment and explaining that his condition was so severe that in Germany he would not have been in prison.
- It notes that in one prison Adamescu was held in, there was an open ‘Greek style’ toilet, which due to the arthritis in his knee he repeatedly fell into. In the same prison, rats entered the cell through the drains.
- There are multiple examples of Adamescu being denied medication, medical procedures, and the diet his type 2 diabetes required. The statement details how Adamescu’s health declined as a result, beginning with a loss of mobility, to widespread infections, and loss of mental capacity.
- In words which were sadly proved true just months after this witness statement, Dan Adamescu says: “Again, urgent health needs are being dismissed on bureaucratic grounds. I am being killed by procedures and paperwork. There’s no doubt now in my mind that I am wilfully denied treatment to induce a quicker death.”
After Dan Adamescu’s death
Dan Adamescu died on 24th January 2017. His family believe the cause was septicaemia, but the Romanian state continues to refuse to release his autopsy report.
Instead of acknowledging the role of Adamescu’s imprisonment in horrendous conditions and lack of medical attention in causing his death, the state has doubled down on its campaign of persecution against him.
1) Press release
As has been clear throughout the legal action against Dan Adamescu, playing to the media was a key concern. This press release states that Dan Adamescu inadequately and illegally managed the insurance firm Astra, and that this caused it to become insolvent. It states that, in December 2016, the file has been sent to court for indictment.
It is striking that this press release makes no effort to refer to the charges as ‘alleged’ or to be proven in court – Adamescu’s guilt is treated as a foregone conclusion.
Download: Press release
2) Dan Adamescu’s death
At the time of the above press release, Adamescu was seriously ill. Shortly afterwards he entered a coma and then died in January 2017.
Read more: Dan Adamescu’s death
3) Defence written submission
This written submission from Dan Adamescu’s legal team essentially asks for the action against him to be stopped because he is dead.
- It states that the law requires the defendant be informed of the indictment against him, but that this hasn’t been done because Adamescu has died.
- It argues that a fair trial is impossible because Adamescu will not be able to defend himself.
Download: Defence written submission
This is a simple timeline of the latest legal action against Dan Adamescu, and shows that at the latest hearing the arguments from the defence were rejected, and the trial is set to go ahead. Since then, Adamescu’s legal team have filed an appeal.