Romania police academy chiefs accused of threatening reporter quit

BUCHAREST, Romania – The chiefs of Romania's Police Academy resigned Friday, May 24, after being accused of sending life-threatening messages to an investigative journalist who has uncovered instances of plagiarism by high-level officials.

The academy's rector Adrian Iacob and his deputy Petrica Marcoci had been indicted by prosecutors on charges of "instigation to blackmail", prompting Interior Minister Carmen Dan to demand their resignations.

Prosecutors claim the two men used a young police officer as an intermediary to send several messages to journalist Emilia Sercan warning that her life was at risk if she didn't stop her investigative work.

Earlier this year Sercan published an article showing that Iacob had plagiarized 70 percent of his PhD thesis, and she said she was also investigating other officials at the academy.

"We are sending this message to prevent what might come next, it's all up to you. Stop all your ongoing activities," read one of the texts published by Sercan last month.

"I wasn't very surprised that the rector and his deputy were the ones behind the threats," 42-year-old Sercan told AFP.

Well respected among her peers in Romania for her investigative work, Sercan commended the reaction from prosecutors and the government and underlined that she would not be deterred by the incident.

"I'll keep on doing my job. This episode is a validation of my work and shows the importance of this subject, of high-level officials and politicians who build their resume on fraud," said Sercan, who works for the website and also teaches journalism at the University of Bucharest.

This year Romania ranked 22 out of 28 EU states in the "World Press Media Freedom Index" published by watchdog NGO Reporters without Borders (RSF). –