The leader of Romania’s ruling party, Liviu Dragnea, has been sentenced to three years and six months in prison for instigating abuse of office.
The ruling came from the High Court on Thursday in a case that saw the head of the Social Democratic Party charged with instigating the abuse of public office and forgery. The ruling was postponed twice before.
The Anti-Corruption Agency (DNA) had called on judges to convict Dragnea to a total of 10 years in prison.
Dragnea was accused of intervening from the years 2006-2012 to keep two women on the payroll of a state agency while being employed by his party.
This is not the first time Dragnea has been embroiled in corruption scandals.
In 2016, Dragnea was convicted of election fraud for vote-rigging, effectively barring him from ever becoming prime minister.
He is also under investigation in Brazil for money laundering.
An investigation was opened by Romania's anti-corruption body into Dragnea over his alleged involvement in creating an "an organized criminal group" to secure EU funds.
In 2017, Romania’s ruling party attempted to decriminalise official misconduct, a move that sparked a series of mass protests, including some of the largest seen in decades.
Earlier in June, more than 100,000 supporters gathered to protest the ruling party’s claim that anti-corruption agencies have too much power in Romania.
On Wednesday parliament approved fundamental changes to procedures that would make it harder for prosecutors to pursue criminal investigations. Opposition lawmakers and critics say it would allow high-level corruption within government to go unpunished, and in effect, possibly see Dragnea's 2016 conviction overturned.