The Curious Case of Traian Berbeceanu

One day a Romanian university student is going to write their dissertation on jurisprudence about the curious case of Traian Bereceanu. The more I look into it, the deeper the wormhole goes, and it really goes to back up everything I’ve ever said here about the police and the legal system.

Two weeks ago the DNA anti-corruption unit swooped down on “Commissar” Traian Bereceanu, serving warrants on him that charged him with warning criminals that a police raid was coming (among other things). The prosecutors in the case asked for and received a 29-day “preventative” arrest for Bereceanu so he’s currently behind bars.

Prior to this arrest, Bereceanu was the chief of BCCO, which means the “Bureau of Organized Crime”, a weird special agency that also had sub-units in Sibiu and Hunedoara alongside its main headquarters in Alba Iulia.

Dozens of fellow officers then crammed into the dock to support Bereceanu, a few dozen protesters hit the street to support Bereceanu and then a Facebook site was created to protest his innocence. The pro-Bereceanu camp say he’s being framed by DIICOT because he is a threat to two different DNA prosecutors because he (Bereceanu) is one of the few honest men left in law enforcement.

So which is it? Was Berbeceanu out of line or is he being framed because he dares to threaten the powerful?

Sadly, it’s a combination of both. Berbeceanu is without a doubt a sloppy cop. And some of the charges against him are either completely fabricated or outright illegal as there’s pretty damning testimony that the prosecutors were trying this summer to get the Biriescus to testify against Berbeceanu. Since they refused, they got hit with the warrants in October as well.

There are a ton of documents in this case, including transcripts from several recorded conversations. It’s clear that “between the lines” you can see that Berbeceanu was in the midst of some kind of turf war with DIICOT. At one point after a police raid (led by Berbeceanu’s units) DIICOT bragged to the media, taking all the credit for the arrest.

Berbeceanu also finds out that his office is being bugged by DIICOT and flips out about this in a DNA prosecutor’s office, who as it turns out also had a secret recording device and recorded that conversation as well.

Berbeceanu has also engaged in quite naughty things like having off the record “chats” with underworld figures and failing to document the meetings and what transpired. It was only after he was caught that suddenly these meetings were for the purposes of getting “tips” about criminal activity.

However conversely the prosecutor’s case is extremely weak, as almost all of the evidence that Berbeceanu was tipping off criminals about impending raids is from the criminals themselves. No fewer than 12 of the damning statements against Berbeceanu came from criminals currently behind bars.

And yet as I said it’s obvious that Berbeceanu let himself get caught up in this web simply by failing to put into practice police basics. As I’ve already explored before, the police in Romania were established as an element of political control over the populace and they’ve never quite ever transitioned to proper crime investigation techniques.

Also, on a personal level, the high chief (Berbeceanu) was barely ever in his office, maybe twice a week at the most. Supposedly he was on the road the other days, going to visit the satellite offices in Sibiu and Deva, but it doesn’t really matter. The point is that when the big chief is away, the little mice will play.

Even his own wife said he was always uptight and stressed out at home, telling her that people were “out to get him” as much as a year and a half ago. Yet despite all the tension, he refused to speak about anything with his wife, preferring to keep it bottled up inside.

Hanging out with masked men can be dangerous to your health
Hanging out with masked men can be dangerous to your health

However the most easily provable damning evidence against Bereceanu is his own responses. When he was brought into the court, the panel of three judges questioned him extensively.

At one point they accuse him of warning his friend Mos Ovidiu, the “vice” mayor of Deva, to tell his (Ovidiu’s) gangster friend that the DIICOT prosecutors (backed by BCCO) was going to raid him. Why had he been so insistent beforehand in asking the prosecutors where it was going to take place?

Berbeceanu’s response:

I had to ask about the upcoming raid, what address it was going to be at and the number of people arrested so that I could fill out a report to requisition enough fuel for the BCCO’s vehicles.

If he’s guilty on that specific charge (asking the info in order to warn someone of the raid), that’s his fault but I have to goggle at his excuse there. Wait a minute. He has to fill out a form requesting gasoline for his vehicles before a mission? Is that really true? Knowing Romania, that sounds true.

Anyway, as I said there is a ton of information out there concerning this case and there are enough twists and turns for a feature length movie. There’s also an inexplicable “secret order” from “the ministry” that Berbeceanu claimed he had to follow but couldn’t discuss further.

All in all, it looks to be a right mess and I can’t wait until some investigative mind takes the time to put the pieces together.

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