Mayor of Moldova capital arrested, sparking political fight

The mayor of Moldova's capital was put under house arrest Friday on suspicion of influence trafficking in a city parking contract, sparking a conflict within the country's pro-Europe governing coalition.

The National Anti-Corruption Center alleged Chisinau Mayor Dorin Chirtoaca told his deputy to sign a contract with Austrian company EME Parkleitsystem GmbH. Chirtoaca, who is under house arrest for 30 days, has not commented on the charge.

The anti-corruption center said the company won contracts due to "concerted actions" from city hall officials. Chirtoaca suspended the contract with the company this month. The company has not commented.

The 38-year-old mayor is also deputy chairman of the Liberal Party and his party said Friday evening that it was pulling out of the ruling coalition in the former Soviet republic over his arrest.

Party leader Mihai Ghimpu said the party's three Cabinet ministers and one deputy prime minister would resign Saturday, which would leave the government without a majority in parliament. He called Chirtoaca's arrest a political move, saying there was insufficient proof to detain him.

Chirtoaca has been mayor since 2007 and supports the small country's reunification with neighboring Romania. He has recently taken a stand against government plans to modify the electoral system.

The anti-corruption center alleges that a public transport official set up an offshore contract in Cyprus and then became a shareholder in EME Parkleitsystem, owning a 26 percent stake that was split between the official and the mayor.

Seven other officials recently were detained in the case, including the city's two deputy mayors.