The ordeal of Romanian businessman Dragos Savulescu could easily have been turned into a blockbuster Hollywood movie, with private airplanes, helicopters, diamonds, luxury gifts, Oscar parties, and luxury stays all over the world. The international 47-year-old jet setter was arrested on August 8th, in Mykonos after the Romanian authorities issued an international arrest warrant, accusing him of embezzling money.
Romanian Prosecutors from the country’s National Anti-Corruption Division had ordered the prosecution of 37 defendants in connection with the illegal restoration and transfer of large plots of land in the city of Constanta, Mamaya, from the beach and the sea, events that caused damage of about 114 million euros ( of which 77.77 million represent damage to the state and 36.16 million to the municipality of Constanta). Among the accused is the former shareholder of the Dinamo Bucharest football team, Dragos Savulescu.
In the heat of the summer, Savulescu found himself staying for almost a month, with his wife and former “Miss Albania” Angela Martini, in Mykonos, as the warrant for his arrest was still in force. But finally, the scrapping of the international arrest warrant came when the Aegean Court of Appeals in Syros rejected the request of the Romanian authorities for his extradition, a similar ruling had previously also been issued by the Italian authorities which had also turned down his extradition.
The Aegean Court of Appeal in Syros sided with Mr. Savulescu, agreeing that Romania had no power to force his extradition from Greece, and ordered an immediate dismissal of a Romanian arrest warrant. Mr. Savulescu was arrested on the island of Mykonos on August 8 after a Romanian court submitted a long-defunct warrant related to his conviction in a 2005 land restitution case, charges Savulescu strongly denies
Now, relieved and from the comfort of his residence in Italy, the Romanian businessman talks with his wife to protothema.gr. He is clearly critical of the Romanian authorities, citing a violation of the rule of law for political reasons, reminiscent of “Ceausescu times”.
He described Romania’s move to issue a warrant as illegal vowing to take the whole case to the Human Rights Watch.
“I have a feeling that justice has prevailed, which is rare for me, as I have had negative experiences from the judicial system while living in Romania. This former communist country has shown that it does not yet have the culture of a rule of law. Because of this, I suffered for 16 years from the authorities’ violations, as my ordeal started in Romania. I am grateful to the Aegean Court of Appeal for the rejection of my extradition and for the respect it has shown for European law. I am still grateful to my lawyer, Michalis Dimitrakopoulos because he is simply great. Even if I went through so many difficulties, I was lucky to be in Greece, a European country that has such a good legal system, dating back to ancient times.”
He continues by explaining that Interpol has taken special measures in his case. “This means that no country can now order an arrest. The Romanian request was originally issued by the Court of Appeal in Bucharest in 2019 and was executed in Italy in January 2020. Basically, they tried to arrest me a second time without any authorisation as the warrant was rejected by the Court of Appeal of Naples, Italy.”
In addition, my case was taken over by the Italian authorities, a fact which was formally conveyed to the Romanian authorities in June 2021. The fact that Romania insisted on the execution of the old warrant is essentially illegal. We are surprised not only by Romania’s derogation from the law but also by the fact that the Romanian authorities refused to recognize the decision of the courts of other EU member states. It was clear from the outset that this witch-hunt against me had political motives”, added the Romanian businessman, emphasising that it was a mistake for Romania to issue an international arrest warrant.
He pointed out that he intended to file a lawsuit against the Romanian authorities. “Apart from the fact that I lost money and time, I suffered a lot from attacks coming from the media, which were based on false news. We suffered great psychological stress, my wife could not even sleep and eat. Our health, our image, our business life was affected. We need to ask the Romanian government to pay for this serious damage and I believe we have many legitimate reasons to claim such a thing.”
“I have no doubt that real justice will prevail, we are in Europe, not in Romania. Romania must become European. The country is still living in the Ceausescu era.”
The night of the arrest
Both he and his wife describe the night of his arrest in Mykonos.
“On August 8, we sat with friends in fish restaurants. Suddenly, someone came up from behind me, he was a policeman and asked if I was Dragos Savulescu. Then he told me to follow him. It was a huge arrest operation with 30-40 members of the police and motorcycles. They handcuffed my bodyguards,” Dragos recalled.
His wife, Angela, on her part, states: “Everyone was arrested except me. I was screaming because they were dressed like normal citizens and I did not think they were police officers. I was in a panic. I did not know how to help. We showed them our Italian papers at the police station, but because they were written in Italian and English, they told us we would spend the night at the station. We intended to stay in Mykonos from August 3 to 18, but we ended up not being able to return home until last week when the extradition request was rejected.”
Savulescu also commented on the reports in the Romanian media regarding his prosecution case.
“We are talking about a civil case that was abusively turned into a criminal one by the Romanian prosecutors for clear political reasons, because of a well-known mayor who is involved in the case. The so-called crime happened 19 years ago. In 2002, when I was 28 years old. The charge was for complicity in the abuse of power, not for money laundering or other crimes. It was a case of restitution on plots of land that had been stolen by the Romanian communist regime in the past. I legally acquired some real estate, but they considered it illegal and convicted 36 people because of it. This issue should be addressed in a civil case, not a criminal one. Unfortunately, whatever the political reasons behind the case, there are negative aspects of Romania’s legal system. The Romanian judiciary has been widely criticised for the involvement of secret services in the judicial procedures as evidenced by the protocols signed between the President of the Supreme Court, the Attorney General of Romania, and the Chief of the Secret Service, actions declared illegal by the Constitutional Court of Romania.”
His wife Martini said on the media and the photos on Instagram: “The Romanian press said that we were hiding out in Mykonos and that we tried to flee. Even if this was the case, we are not so stupid as to post it on Instagram and lead the authorities towards us. This is fake news, really ridiculous, which leaves us speechless. The truth behind this whole madness framed against us is the following: We arrived in Mykonos at the beginning of August, legally, by plane. We did not hide, we had no reason to do so, we are responsible people, so we would never put ourselves in such a ridiculous position. I posted photos on Instagram without any problems, just like uploading snapshots from trips to France and Switzerland. The reason my husband was arrested was not that our location was revealed. Dragos was abused by the Romanian authorities who pressured the Greek ones to arrest him. It was proved by the decision of the Aegean Court of Appeal, which rejected the extradition request and allowed us to return to Italy, that the Romanian authorities had a legal setback.”
View this post on Instagram
Thinking about the prospect of him returning to Romania, Savulescu is clear that he feels his life would be in danger. “But in theory, if I had arrived in Romania, my life would certainly have been in danger because I became a strong opponent of Romanian justice after facing such injustice. Surely, if the warrant had been enforced, I would have had my wife by my side who would have made the case public to be known worldwide, while she would have hired the best lawyers, would have been investigated by the human rights services, would have created the biggest scandal in Romania and Europe. My wife is the strongest warrior I have ever met, despite having the appearance of an angel. “Besides, she is of Albanian, Swiss and American descent, so Romanians cannot touch her.”