The wife of a British resident fighting plans to extradite him to Romania on “unfounded” corruption charges has accused its government of attempting to kidnap her from a London street.
Adriana Constantinescu has spoken for the first time of the moment two masked men tried to drag her into a car outside her St John’s Wood home.
Speaking ahead of her husband Alexander Adamescu appearing in court to answer a European Arrest Warrant demanding his removal to Romania, she said the kidnap attempt was part of a state-sponsored campaign to intimidate him and his family.
She said: “There was nothing random about this kidnap attempt – it is symptomatic of the attempts by the Romanian prosecutors and intelligence agents to intimidate us and show us what they are capable of doing.”
MPs and justice campaigners have called for urgent reforms to the controversial EAW system, saying it is being used by corrupt officials to target Mr Adamescu on “unfounded” bribery charges and that the case has highlighted serious flaws in the system.
Mr Adamescu, 38, who is a German citizen, was arrested last June and locked up in Wandsworth Prison for two nights before being released on bail pending a hearing into his case in April.
The Romanian authorities are demanding his extradition as part of a wider case against Mr Adamescu’s father Dan, a businessman and proprietor of the opposition newspaper Romania Libera, which has long been a thorn in the side of the Government.
Mrs Constantinescu described the attack on her by two masked men in March last year as “terrifying”.
She said: “They were both wearing bandanas and gloves. They drove a Mini cooper with fake number plates – as I was later told by the police. And they didn’t steal anything despite the fact that I was wearing diamond earrings, and had my car keys in my hand.
“When they approached me, I threw myself on the ground, and fought with them until a neighbour heard my screaming and came running out to me. At the same time, a cab driver with a passenger in the back seat pulled over next to me and called the police. That was the moment I was saved. The two men ran to their car and quickly drove away. I was lucky.”
Mrs Constantinescu added: “Although the kidnappers didn’t speak, I knew they had been engaged by the Romanians because they specifically targeted me and did not have any intent to rob me. We are a normal family in London and don’t show off at all. You don’t go to kidnap somebody randomly in front of a nursery where two toddlers have been dropped off.
“It is the typical Romanian neo-Communist fashion to go after the entire family, wife, children, babies, when you want to destroy a person.”
Scotland Yard said the incident was still subject to an ongoing investigation, but that no arrests had been made and there had been few leads to pursue.
Mr Adamescu’s father was recently moved from his prison cell to a hospital ward to receive treatment for sepsis, leading to fears for his long-term well-being.
Mrs Constantinescu, a marketing specialist, said: “Dan is in a life-threatening condition and held in intensive care after a septic shock. We don’t know if he’ll survive. His health has been ruined by the intentional mistreatment he’s received at the hands of the Romanian state. Alexander will be similarly tortured. I fear for his life if he’s to be returned.”
She added: “As a wife and mother, I try to remain positive about the outcome of the extradition attempt, but fear greatly for Alexander and our children who will potentially be separated from both their father and grandfather in the future. I do hope that the new Romanian government who has promised to uphold the rule of law will keep its promise.”
The family’s supporters claim former-Communist elements within Romania’s security services fabricated a bribery case against the Astra insurance company run by Mr Adamescu Snr, which had grown to become the country’s largest.
They claim that in February 2014 the then-Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ponta instructed market regulators to take control of the firm, which was subsequently liquidated.
The EU routinely labels the country as one of the most corrupt in Europe and has placed it, along with neighbouring Bulgaria, under a corruption monitoring scheme. A European parliament study estimated Romania lost about 15 per cent of its GDP to corruption.
However, observers say the Romanian authorities have put significant effort into prosecuting corrupt businessmen and politicians as part of their bid to win closer European integration, including accession to the Eurozone.
Under the campaign some of the country’s most powerful businessmen have been brought down, along with a string of high-profile government ministers. They include Mr Ponta, who is currently battling corruption charges of his own, including tax evasion and money laundering.
The Romanian National Anti-corruption Directorate (DNA) denied conspiring to seize the Adamescus’ business holdings and said Mr Adamescu Snr had received a fair trial.
The DNA did not comment on Mrs Constantinescu’s kidnap allegations, but the agency repeated its claim that it had only used the EAW because Alexander Adamescu had refused to appear before prosecutors.