CORRECTED: Top Romania official slams 'political trial'
Tuesday, April 16, 2019       02:51 WIB

Bucharest, April 15, 2019 (AFP)
The head of Romania's ruling party claimed his prison sentence for a fake jobs scandal was politically motivated, in testimony at his appeal trial on Monday.
Social Democratic Party (PSD) leader Liviu Dragnea was found guilty last June of using his influence to keep two women on the payroll of a child protection state agency, even though they were working for his party.
He received a three-and-a-half-year jail sentence.
"I'm completely innocent, and I consider this a political trial," Dragnea, one of Romania's most powerful politicians, said in court during his appeal hearing.
The 56-year-old denied "ever having asked anyone" to hire the two women.
That contradicted testimony from the two women and others, including the child protection state agency's former director who recalled several discussions with Dragnea on the matter.
Hundreds of people for and against Dragnea -- thought to hold substantial sway over the government -- rallied outside the court from early Monday.
The next court hearing was set for May 20.
Dragnea has also claimed the selection of the judges was "illegal". The Constitutional court is to rule on that claim this Friday.
Dragnea was already given a two-year suspended prison sentence for vote-rigging dating back to 2016, a sentence that prevented him from being made prime minister.
He is also under investigation for fabricating documents to obtain EU funds.
The PSD has embarked upon a major shake-up of the justice system, but EU officials say it undermines the independence of the judiciary and weakens anti-corruption efforts.
A presidential election is due to be held towards the end of this year.

Sumber : AFP