ROMANIA'S most wanted alleged crime boss claims he has been fitted up with "false charges" by a political party because he once helped to rig the country's presidential elections on the promise of a 1.5 million euros bung.
"Badass" gangster Florin Ghinea, 44, (above) is facing extradition to Romania to face charges of running a major crime gang that allegedly trafficked prostitutes to Finland, Dubai and Ireland, before laundering proceeds of at least 200,000 euros.
Ghinea, also known as Ghenosu, who could face a maximum total of 44 years in prison for the offences, also sensationally named former Romanian President Traian Băsescu in court as being the head of an organised crime network.
He is also accused of trying to arrange the assassination of "rival pimp" Marian ''Becu'' Tudorache, by offering the would be assassin a flat in exchange for the murder that never went ahead.
Four prison officers guarded the category A alleged kingpin, who is fighting the extradition, as he told Westminster Magistrates' Court on Friday that he was tipped off by corrupt police in Romania that he was about to be arrested in May 2018, before he fled to the UK.
TARGET: Romanian prosecutors claim Ghinea conspired to kill Marian ''Becu'' Tudorache
He was placed on Interpol's most wanted list and arrested leaving a Watford gym three months later, when he had false ID under the name of Florin Bracau, 37.
Three National Crime Agency (NCA) officers looked on as Ghinea, who is of Bulgarian heritage, admitted to the court he had lived a life of crime and spent 19 years behind bars.
This included eight years for a major electoral fraud in which he was offered 1.5 million euros if he could bribe people to vote for the Democratic Liberal Party (PDL) in the 2009 Presidential election.
Toby Cadman, representing Romania, suggested Ghinea made up claims he was tipped off about the probe by police.
Speaking through a translator, Ghinea replied: "How else would I know that they were coming to arrest me at 6am?
"I was told there was a criminal matter that was being manufactured and they were coming to arrest me."
He also admitted previously serving time for prostitution offences and that he was part of an organised crime network, but he denied being its leader, claiming it was in fact run by former Romanian president Traian Băsescu.
SHOCKER: Florin Ghinea named in court former Romanian President Traian Băsescu as a crime lord
Mr Cadman said: "Mr Ghinea is the head of an organised crime group in Romania.
"He admits being engaged in corruption, coercion and bribery in relation to electoral fraud.
"The requested person is alleged to have taken part in a scheme aimed at corrupting public officials and paying bribes to solicit votes for material gain."
Mr Basescu went on to beat his rival Mircea Geoana, despite the latter being ahead in exit polls.
In 2017 the Social Democratic Party (PSD) demanded a probe into the 2009 elections.
Ghinea claimed he is being persecuted by the PSD with the current charges because he refused to cooperate with the inquiry.
Mr Cadman added: "He refused to cooperate in a criminal investigation and refused to give evidence against persons of political influence due to a perceived fear of reprisals.
"He believes that he is now being prosecuted for other criminal acts due to his refusal to cooperate."
Ghinea said while remanded in the UK his wife has been visited by police at 2am.
He said: "I was going to people's home addresses and giving them money in order to vote for the PDL.
GAUNT: A court sketch of Ghinea who had clearly lost weight (Jon Austin)
"One and a half million euros is what the PDL promised to give me if I placed them in power.
"But, I was arrested then the winning party called PSD put me in prison."
Mr Cadman said: "By you own admission you are the leader of a major organised crime group in Romania."
Ghinea replied: "No, the leader is Mr Băsescu."
The court heard Romanian investigators secretly intercepted phone calls between Ghinea and his wife while he has been on remand in the UK.
Mr Cadman said Ghinea said he was not scared of being extradited and boasted he would not serve a full sentence because he is a "badass"
But, Ghinea claimed he was just trying to make his scared wife feel better about the situation.
Ghinea claimed he wants to stay in the UK and bring his wife and two-year-old daughter here after setting up a restaurant business.
He said: "I am responsible for bringing singers from Romania to the restaurant."
Psychologist Dr Graham Rogers told the court Ghinea has post traumatic stress disorder, which is likely to worsen if he is extradited, particularly if he is placed in solitary confinement.
SKYPE: Professor Radu Chirita could not attend court
He said he once had to intervene to stop Ghinea repeatedly banging his head on a table in Belmarsh Prison.
He has swallowed two sets of nail clippers in jail after being denied access to his daughter and the once muscular criminal has lost up to 25kgs in weight, he said.
Representing Ghinea, Peter Caldwell, said as the alleged crimes had not happened in Romania, he could not be extradited there, but Mr Cadman argued as the crime gang was formed there he could.
The case, which has been adjourned several times, had to be again due to technical issues with Skype.
Professor Radu Chirita, who is due to give evidence about the election fraud scandal from Romania, was unable to as a result.