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Romanian court acquits ex-PM Tariceanu of false testimony charges

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BUCHAREST (Reuters) – A Romanian court acquitted former prime minister and current Senate speaker Calin Tariceanu on Tuesday of charges of giving false testimony to assist suspects in a wider real estate corruption case.

It is the second high-profile acquittal this month after ex- prime minister Victor Ponta escaped charges of forgery, money laundering and being an accessory to tax evasion.

Both decisions are preliminary and can be appealed.

Transparency International ranks Romania among the European Union’s most corrupt countries and Brussels, which keeps the Romanian justice system under special monitoring, has praised magistrates for their efforts to curb graft.

Anti-corruption prosecutors have been cracking down in recent years, convicting people across parties at a steady rate of just under 90 percent in 2017 of those who stood trial.

Prosecutors said Tariceanu made untrue statements under oath when he was called to testify in an investigation in which a grandson of former King Carol II is accused of illegally obtaining a state-owned forest and farm, and causing damage to the budget worth 145.4 million euros (127.52 million pounds).

Tariceanu, 66, served as prime minister in 2004-2008. He is now the leader of the junior ruling coalition party ALDE.

(Reporting by Luiza Ilie; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

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