The criminal cases of the most notorious thief in law of the '90s, Grigore Caramalac do not lead him behind bars, as it happens to those who dealt with his cases. Thus, in 2015, the thief in law, aka Bulgaru, escaped prosecution after the criminal cases managed by the prosecution were transferred to Russia by the decision of the former acting Prosecutor General, Andrei Pantea. Now, though still wanted by the Interpol, Caramalac is at large and free of any investigation, while Pantea is detained for 72 hours, having a criminal case started against him.
Pantea's contradictory decisions: first time - no, second - yes
Before accepting the transfer of Caramalac’s case to Russia in 2013, according to the press, Pantea had rejected such a request in 2010.
It remains uncertain whether this was a strategy, a political order or a radical change of mind.
The first decision on the transfer of the thief in law’s case was made in 2011, when the Rascani District Court ordered the Prosecutor to transfer the Caramalac’s case to Russia. However, the conclusion of the court and transmission of cases were canceled by the Supreme Court of Justice.
Moreover, the magistrate of the Rascani District Court, Ghenadie Morozan, who endorsed this conclusion, was sanctioned for his decision by the SCM. According to the SCM, Morozan was accused by the former Prosecutor General Valeriu Zubco for having admitted unfounded complaints of Caramalac’s lawyer, the Prosecutor General ordered to transfer the case of Caramalac to the General Prosecution of the Russian Federation.
The SCM wrote then that, according to the law, the Prosecutor General has the right to decide whether to decline jurisdiction in a particular case, but it cannot be forced to do so. In this context, the decision of Rascani District Court was interpreted as abuse of duties by Morozan, who was sanctioned with a reprimand.
Despite the decision of the Supreme Court, which annulled the decision to transfer the case of Bulgaru to Russia, in 2013, the transfer of the case was approved by Panta’s signature. This time, Pantea was acting Prosecutor General. According to ZDG, this was done through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Integration, following the translation of documents into Russian.
To resume the Caramalac’s case, Pantea created a new subdivision of the prosecution office - Control and investigation of organized crime and offenses, which managed all the cases related to criminal groups. Vasile Godoroja, who officially had proposed to transfer the case of Caramalac to Russia, was appointed head of the department.
Two years later, in 2015, the Russian authorities decided to discontinue the prosecution against the thief in law, Grigore Caramalac for lack of offense elements. In the same year, Pantea resigned with the consent of SPC.
In the decision to discontinue the case, the Russian authorities pointed out that investigation and the transfer of Caramalac’s case was made with violations of the provisions of the Minsk Convention of 01.22.1993 "On legal assistance and legal relations in civil, family and criminal cases", because the case materials were not authenticated by any official and there was no official stamp of the Prosecutor General.
Earlier, the press wrote, that it was the prosecution of the Russian Federation that violated the Convention by refusing to extradite Caramalac on grounds that he was under investigation in Russia for the same type of crime.
The former prosecutor later declared that the decision to transfer the case was lawful and that he did so because in 2016 the limitation period of this case was due to expire.
His decision was criticized by another former prosecutor, Ion Diacov. In an interview with deschide.md, he said that as first vice-prosecutor, Pantea knew about the decision of the SCJ, which forebode the transfer of the case to the Russian Federation. But through abuse of power (which he is now accused of), he signed the documents in the absence of the Prosecutor General, Valeriu Zubco.
Diacov told there were rumors that large amounts of money: between 500 000 and 1.5 million dollars were offered for this transfer.
It seems that the decision will cost the former prosecutor much more. On 11 October, Anti-Corruption Prosecutors arrested Pantea for the transfer of Caramalac’s case and he risks imprisonment of up to 3 years.
Criminal law does not keep up to Caramalac
In 1998 – 2010 (when he was wanted), Bulgaru was arrested several times in Russia and Ukraine, but was released each time.
The thief in law appears to be the only one who does not suffer from his own cases. In 2003, he was detained in Ukraine with a fake passport. Soon, even though he was announced in international search, he was set free in unknown circumstances. Thus, Caramalac was at large again and the prosecutor that allowed this, Jurbenco I. was punished for exceeding his duties, like other people in positions of responsibility.
In Moldova, the thief in law had two criminal cases, in which he was suspected of committing offenses of banditry, complicity to attempted premeditated murder with aggravating circumstances, extortion and embezzlement in especially large proportions, crimes for which he was declared wanted and is still in the international search.
The press wrote that fleeing to Russia, Caramalac allegedly organized a theft of the criminal case, in which he and his criminal group are involved, and in this case, persons in charge for the case in Moldova were punished. However, there is no official data with respect to this.
Several attempts to extradite Caramalac from the Russian Federation to Moldova have been made, but all of them failed. The main reason was that he allegedly had a Russian citizenship (obtained in 2008) and received political asylum in Russia on the grounds of political persecution by Voronin.