Fact Check: Anti-Corruption Prosecutors Did NOT Search Office Of Head Of Emergency Services In Deadly Explosions Investigation

Fact Check

  • by: Ioana Burtea
Fact Check: Anti-Corruption Prosecutors Did NOT Search Office Of Head Of Emergency Services In Deadly Explosions Investigation Not Targeted

Did Romanian anti-corruption prosecutors search the office of the head of the emergency services department, Raed Arafat? No, that's not true: Prosecutors from the National Anti-corruption Directorate (DNA) have launched two investigations into how a GPL station in Dambovita County was able to function without a license from the emergency services, which led to four deadly explosions on August 26, 2023. None of these investigations mention Raed Arafat, and prosecutors did not search his office.

The claim appeared in a video (archived here) on TikTok by @patriapriori on August 30, 2023, under the title "DNA is searching Arafat" (translated from Romanian to English by Lead Stories staff). It opened:

DNA went to search Raed Arafat: Seizures from ISU office in the abuse of office investigation following Crevedia explosions.

The poster wrote (translated from Romanian to English by Lead Stories staff):

We want to see heads rolling.

This is what the post looked like on TikTok at the time of writing:

Screenshot 2023-08-31 at 13.52.21.png

(Source: TikTok screenshot taken on Thu Aug 31 10:54:28 2023 UTC)

On the evening of August 26, 2023, a GPL station in Crevedia (Dambovita County) exploded, leading to the surrounding area being evacuated. As emergency responders secured the gas station and searched for victims, another massive explosion occurred, injuring 43 firemen. Two more explosions followed suit.

As of August 31, 2023, three people died and 58 were injured, of which 12 were sent for treatment at European hospitals.

DNA prosecutors announced two separate investigations on August 28, 2023, because the GPL station had not been authorized to function. They are going to analyze documentation and statements from the institutions that handle licensing such businesses and try to figure out how the GPL station was able to function without a license from the emergency services of Dambovita County (ISU Dambovita.)

Two other investigations into the tragedy have been opened: by the Military Prosecutor's Office into the emergency responders' intervention after the first Crevedia explosion and by the General Prosecutor's Office into the cause of the blast. "In these types of situations, an investigation is automatically launched, which does not mean there is any indication that someone did something wrong or that the emergency responders didn't do their job," the head of the Bucharest Military Tribunal told HotNews.ro.

On August 30, 2023, DNA prosecutors collected documents from ISU Dambovita as part of the investigation. This does not mean ISU Dambovita employees are being accused of anything, and it does not involve Arafat, the head of the national emergency services -- of which ISU Dambovita is a part.

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  Ioana Burtea

Ioana Burtea has worked in journalism for 15 years. She started her career at Mediafax news agency in Bucharest and has written for DoR magazine for over seven years. Her collaborations include publications like Europe & Me, New Eastern Europe, Balkan Insight and Washington Post. Ioana published pieces on the justice system in Romania, social affairs, politics and personal essays. In 2018,  she became a fellow of the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network.  In 2021, she received the first prize in the Portrait category at the national Superscrieri journalism awards.

Read more about or contact Ioana Burtea

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