In an international petition, an alliance of nature conservation organisations called for more justice and an impartial investigation into the murder of Liviu Pop, forest ranger and forest protector in Romania. The petition was now successful: Thanks to the great solidarity, the case is now transferred to the Romanian Supreme Court in Bucharest.
A few weeks ago, two Romanian forest rangers were killed in just one month. Both had worked to protect the forests and reported illegal deforestation. The first of them was Raducu Gorcioaia, who has been working to preserve Romania´s forests for many years. He was, only a few days later, followed by Liviu Pop, who left behind a wife and three young children. Both wanted to uncover illegal deforestation and paid for it with their lives.
The extent of crime in Romania’s forests is shocking. Not only are 20 million cubic metres of wood logged illegally every year – even in protected areas – but foresters and conservationists are also brutally attacked and sometimes even killed. In the plast 5 years alone, 6 murders and over 650 attacks have been registered by the Romanian Forestry Union.
Together with Declic, Greenpeace Romania and WeMove, EuroNatur and Agent Green demanded justice for the murdered rangers. With the help of a petition they asked for international support. In just a few days, the petition was signed by over 100,000 people. The case of Liviu Pop´s murder was first dealt with in by the prosecuter´s office in Maramures, where Pop lived and was found dead in the forest. However, a connection was suspected between the responsible prosecuter, the suspected murderers and the profiteers of the illegal timber business. As the court in Bucharest is believed to be impartial the organisations demanded that the investigations are continued there.
Even before we were able to hand over the petition, the pressure was strong enough: On 22. November 2019, the Prosecutor General decided that the case would be transferred from the Maramures Court to the Romanian Supreme Court in Bucharest.
“We are happy that Raducu Gorcioaia and Liviu Pop as well as their families and friends will now have the chance for a fair prosecution of the case and thereforemore justice. Nevertheless, the problem in Romania’s forests has not yet been solved. As long as corruption, mafia-like timber trading and illegal logging are common in Romania, foresters and conservationists are not safe. Romania urgently needs to consistently tackle illegal practices and corruption in the forestry sector. This is the only way to protect the forest and the people in Romania who are committed to its protection”, says Gabriel Schwaderer, Executive Director of EuroNatur.