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Former Romanian leader to be released from prison

Adrian Nastase, the former Romanian prime minister, will be released early from prison after serving nine months of a two-year term for corruption, a Bucharest court ruled Monday.

The decision to release him appeared to mark the end of an extraordinary episode that riveted Nastase’s compatriots. In June, when police arrived at Nastase’s villa to arrest him, the former prime minister apparently pulled out a revolver and tried to kill himself. Millions of Romanians watched on television in shock as he was carried off on a stretcher, a Burberry scarf wrapped around his neck. He survived and was soon behind bars.

Nastase, 62, the most senior Romanian politician to be jailed since the end of communism in 1989, was convicted of siphoning $2 million in state funds for his presidential campaign. His arrest was lauded by anti-corruption advocates as a seminal moment in Romania’s law enforcement history. But Nastase called the charges against him a preposterous “political game.”

On Monday, even Nastase’s critics said his release was understandable given his age and exemplary behavior, including writing three books while in prison.

“The fact that such a high-level politician served jail time for illegal financing is a lesson that no one in this country is above the law,” said Laura Stefan, an anti-corruption expert at Expert Forum, a research group. “The point has been made.”

Nastase, who was prime minister from 2000 to 2004, was expected to be released late Monday.

Romania, among the poorest countries in the European Union, has struggled to shed a culture of lawlessness and corruption, one legacy of decades of communism under the brutal dictatorship of Nicolae Ceausescu.

—Dan Bilefsky, The New York Times

Hurdles before Dell buys Dell

More than a month has passed since Dell announced its planned $24.4 billion sale to its founder, Michael S. Dell. Since then, a number of shareholders have loudly complained that the price Michael Dell has offered for the computer company is far too low.

With the stock trading well above the $13.65 a share that Michael Dell has offered — $14.31 at Friday’s close — the billionaire may very well have to raise his offer.

But that’s going to cost real money.

Here’s one way of looking at it: Raising the bid by a dollar a share would cost about $1.8 billion, so getting to the $15-a-share bid that some analysts see as necessary would add about $2.3 billion to the deal’s price.

It’s unclear who might bear the cost of providing the additional capital. Michael Dell is rolling over the roughly 16 percent of shares that he controls, as well as providing around $750 million. His partner, Silver Lake, is paying about $1.4 billion.

—Michael J. De La Merced, The New York Times