Sentences upheld against corrupt ex-senator, ex-judge in Romania

A former senator and a retired high court judge in Romania lost an appeal Monday against sentences received for corruption in protecting two shady businessmen.

Catalin Voicu, who stepped down as senator for the ruling Social Democrat Party in December, was ordered jailed for seven years for using his influence to shield the two businessmen.

The appellate judges added two years to Voicu's original sentence of five years handed down in June last year.

The retired judge, Florin Costiniu, was given a suspended four-year sentence for receiving bribes from Voicu to lobby his former judicial colleagues in cases to do with the businessmen.

Voicu was not present in court to hear the verdict, having been admitted to a hospital emergency ward after complaining of bleeding, the Mediafax news agency reported.

The two men were found to have received 289,000 euros ($377,000) in cash to help out the businessmen, whose own sentences -- four years in prison for one, a suspended four-year term for the other -- were also upheld.

Voicu was identified in a wiretap apologising to one of the businessmen for not being able to get him off a criminal charge.

Romania's declared fight against once-rampant corruption is being carefully monitored by the European Union since joining the bloc in 2007.