The roll-call of ex-MEPs who have prison sentences grows longer by the week. Gigi Becali, who left the European Parliament at the end of 2012 after two-and-a-half years of limited impact, was last week given a suspended sentence of three years.
Becali is a multi-millionaire who owns the football club Steaua Bucharest. A bit like the European Commission, he does not rate the police and judicial authorities in Romania very highly. So when he had his car stolen two years ago, instead of turning to the police, he got his bodyguards to track the thieves down and take them to a bar to explain themselves. According to a video that appeared on YouTube, the meeting seemed rather jovial, aided by whisky paid for by Becali, but he was later charged with illegally detaining the men and sentenced by a court in Bucharest last week.
From June 2009 until December 2012, Becali was nominally sitting as an independent in the European Parliament, though mostly he just stayed away. His attendance record at plenary sessions was 21% and he last voted in June 2012. Nevertheless, the experience did not put him off politics. He hoped to join the national parliament as a liberal and become part of Romania's government coalition (it calls itself an alliance). However, he was not satisfied with the post that Crin Antonescu, the liberal party's leader, offered him and so stayed out. Presumably Antonescu is wary of accepting invitations to convivial drinks.