A former Romanian mayor from the governing Social Democrat party has been detained in Madagascar, where he fled and sought political asylum to avoid corruption charges in 2017.
Romanian police confirmed that Radu Mazăre who served as mayor of the Black Sea port of Constanţa for 15 years was arrested by Madagascan authorities on Wednesday and will be held for a period of six days.
Mazăre is wanted in Romania to carry out a nine-year ten-month sentence for abuse of office related to the illegal construction of a luxury apartment complex in the Mamaia beach resort on the Black Sea.
The former mayor was placed under judicial control at the end of 2017, but he did not present himself to the police, and at the beginning of 2018, he wrote a letter to “all interested Romanian authorities”, saying that he was seeking political asylum in Madagascar because he was “a political target of the parallel state [in Romania]”.
Romania does not have an extradition treaty with Madagascar, so the authorities of the two countries have to negotiate how he will be sent to Romania.
Radu Mazăre cut a colourful and controversial figure during his 15 years as mayor of the ancient Black Sea port of Constanţa. Known for throwing flamboyant fancy-dress parties and posing on the cover of Playboy magazine, he has also been the subject of several corruption allegations.
In 2012 he opened a kitesurfing resort in Madagascar that prosecutors allege was paid for in part with money he received as a bribe in return for facilitating a 10 million euro housing scheme in Constanţa .
In separate corruption case, Mazare was found guilty, along with 36 other Constanţa City Hall officials of illegally selling state-owned beaches and sea-front property to acquaintances. He received a four-year suspended sentence for his role in the criminal enterprise that cost the Romanian state some 130 million euros.