Violence Mars Romania's Protests over Controversial Law Changes

Southeast Europe | February 2, 2017, Thursday // 07:46|  views

Screen capture: BNT

Romania's gendarmerie cleared the main square in Bucharest on Wednesday evening after continuing protests against changes to criminal law.

More than 100 000 people took the the streets of Bucharest according to different sources. The BBC has put the number at 150 000.

Demonstrations were also held in other Romanian towns and cities.

In Bucharest, firecrackers and smoke bombs were thrown by some demonstrators. Police responded by using tear gas.

Some protesters, believed to be ultras fans according to the Romania Insider, were surrounded by police, but several people continued with provocations and security forces decided to clear the square.

The outbreak of violence injured two protesters and two riot police officers.

A number of media outlets refer to the protest as the biggest since the fall of communism twenty-seven years ago.

The development followed public and EU-level outcry over controversial legislation thay may grant amnesty on dozens of jailed officials.

The Social Democratic Party (PSD)'s cabinet on Tuesday evening approved changes that allow jailtime for abuses of power only if the sum involved is bigger than 44 000.

Officials argue space needs to be freed up in prisons, after the specialized prosecution agency DNA, in charge of anti-corruption, has sentenced dozens of politicians over the past years, with the PSD leader Liviu Dragnea also facing a trial. There are more than 2000 cases of abuse of office currently pending.

EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker rebuked the move by saying the anti-corruption fight "needs to be addressed, not undone".

Six embassies, including those of the US and Germany, expressed their concern about the changes.

In the meantime, the opposition said it was filing a no-confidence vote against the PSD government of Sorin Grindeanu.

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Tags: Liviu Dragnea, Romania, anti-corruption, PSD, protests


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