Europe human rights court lifts immunity for judge's wife

30th November 2011, Comments 0 comments

The European Court of Human Rights said Wednesday it had temporarily lifted the diplomatic and criminal immunity enjoyed by a judge's allegedly corrupt wife.

The ruling against Gabriela Birsan is not retroactive, however, meaning evidence collected in a police raid at her Bucharest home in October is likely inadmissible.

Gabriela Barsan is the wife of Corneliu Barsan, a Romanian judge on the court's 47-member panel.

Gabriela Barsan, herself a high court judge in Romania, is being investigated in that country over allegations she accepted jewellery and airline tickets in exchange for favourable judgments.

Romanian officials initially asked for immunity to be lifted for both husband and wife, but court officials refused to lift Corneliu Barsan's immunity.

After weighing evidence provided by Romanian authorities, the court "decided to allow the request to waive immunity in respect of Mrs Barsan, to the extent strictly necessary for the conduct of the investigation", the Strasbourg court said in a statement.

The court added that immunity extends to both the spouses and children of judges because it constitutes an "essential element of judicial independence".

Romania which joined the European Union in 2007 has stepped up its fight against high-level corruption in the last years. Three judges from the supreme court have been charged in the last 18 months.

© 2011 AFP

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