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Romania's high court upholds 3 1/2 year jail term for ruling party leader Liviu Dragnea

Romania's high court upholds 3 1/2 year jail term for ruling party leader Liviu Dragnea Liviu Dragnea, PSD leader

BUCHAREST (Romania), May 27 (SeeNews) - Romania's High Court of Cassation and Justice said on Monday it has upheld the prison sentence of the leader of ruling Social Democrat Party (PSD), Liviu Dragnea, who was convicted last year on charges of corruption.

Dragnea has appealed the three-an-a half year prison sentence he was given by a lower court for providing fictitious employment to two PSD members at Teleorman Child Protection Department but the higher court has rejected the appeal, according to the decision published on the website of the High Court of Cassation and Justice.

According to the case file, Dragnea pushed for the employment of the PSD members who received payment without actually working at the public institution.

The verdict of the High Court of Cassation, which is final, came after PSD suffered a defeat at Sunday's elections for European Parliament in Romania.

The National Liberal Party won some 26.79% of the votes amid high turnout, defeating PSD and its junior partner in the government coalition, the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats (ALDE), according to partial official results.

PSD came second with 23.38% of votes, the central electoral bureau said on Monday after the ballots cast in 96.93% of the polling stations were counted. ALDE received just 4.24%, below the country's 5% threshold for sending representatives to the European Parliament.

In addition, close to 81% of Romanians who voted in an anti-corruption referendum held on Sunday alongside the European Parliament elections rejected the attempts of PSD to weaken the fight against graft, according to preliminary official results.

The majority of Romanians answered with "Yes" to the two questions in the referendum: "Do you agree with banning amnesty and pardon for corruption offenses?" and "Do you agree with banning the adoption of emergency decrees on criminal offences, punishment and judicial organisation and with the extension of the right to challenge decrees directly before the Constitutional Court?".