OWR 2017: “The Trial”, by Claudiu Mitcu and Ileana Bîrsan
by Andra Petrescu
Mihai Moldoveanu was accused and arrested in January 1996 for having murdered a taxi driver on the night of the 31st of October 1995. After the first sentence of 25 years, given by the Bihor Court in 1998, the Court of Appeal acquitted Moldoveanu, but the Supreme Court of Justice returned to the initial sentence of 25 years. In 2012 the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) decided that the trial had not been an equitable one, according to “the art.6, paragraph 1 (regarding his condemning by the Supreme Court of Justice without his deposition and without having been presented the evidences directly) and the art.3, letter c) from the Convention (regarding his lack of defense) on the occasion of solving the appeal by the High Court.” (Hotnews.ro).
But what exactly happened on the night of the 31st of October 1995? In short, two taxi drivers from Oradea became the victims of two aggressions: one of them escaped and called the police (afterwards, he also helped catching the authors) and the other one died after having been stabbed 20 times with a knife. The two people that were accused, Gabriela Rotariu and Georgică Honciuc admitted having robbed the first driver, but denied having been involved in the murder of the second one. Mihai Moldoveanu, a friend of the two, met with them on the night of the murder, but he says that he was not involved in the robbery or the murder that he was accused of.
During the 2017 One World Romania Film Festival, Claudiu Mitcu and Ileana Bîrsan showed a 20 minutes edit of “The Trial”, a documentary which investigates Mihai Munteanu`s case using footage from the police archives (the video recordings made by the police for the re-enactment of the crime, filmed interrogations), recordings from during the appeal of the case and interviews with the people involved (with those who agreed to be part of this project).
It is complicated to remake a story – murder, or trials – after such a long period of time and most probably the investigation depends on the multiple stories of those who were involved (the accused man, the lawyers, the prosecutors, the footage from during the investigation, confessions, etc) and on confronting them with the laws and the procedures that were in force at that time. I think that the biggest challenge of this documentary is the way in which it will be able to glide through all these stories, in trying to question a judiciary system which seems to have not been equitable. Mihai Munteanu was released in 2012 after the ECHR decision and sentenced again to the appeal of the case. In the meantime, he was released on parole.
“The Trial” is a Wearebasca production; it was screened in the Work-in-progress section and it was followed by a discussion with Ileana Bîrsan, Claudiu Mitcu and the prosecutor Alexandra Carmen Lăncrănjan and moderated by Alexandru Solomon.
Cinematography: Valeriu Ciubotaru
Translation: Iulia Necoara