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Former Romanian premier attempts suicide after conviction

Hours after receiving a two-year prison sentence, Romania's former prime minister Adrian Nastase tried to commit suicide, Prime Minister Victor Ponta said.

Ponta, who visited Nastase in hospital, said his medical status was "under control".

Television provided live coverage of police going to Nastase's home to bring him to prison, then showed an ambulance arriving and transporting Nastase to hospital.

Romanian media later cited unnamed sources as saying that Nastase had shot himself with a revolver in the presence of police, and injured himself seriously in the throat.

Earlier Wednesday, Romania's Supreme Court sentenced Nastase to two years in prison for violating the rules of campaign funding, the Mediafax news agency reported.

The top court confirmed an earlier judgement by a lower court. In January, Nastase, 61, was found guilty of funneling 1.6 million euros (2 million dollars) from election campaign donations to accounts held by companies under his control in 2004.

He denied any wrongdoing and said that he was being prosecuted as part of a political vendetta. But he faces an additional set of corruption charges linked to a murky property deal.

Nastase, premier from 2000-04, was cleared in December of charges related to 400,000 dollars that he failed to declare, claiming that it was an inheritance from his wife's aunt. The prosecution has appealed that verdict.

Wednesday's verdict against Nastase follows the sentencing of two former agriculture ministers for corruption.

Romania joined the European Union along with Bulgaria in 2007. Both countries are often criticized for their inefficient and corrupt judicial systems.

A stronger rule of law and a more efficient justice system is a key requirement for both Balkan nations to finally join the European border-free Schengen area.

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