Published: Tue, August 14, 2018
Worldwide | By Sean Reid

Nearly 500 injured in Romanian protests against government corruption

Nearly 500 injured in Romanian protests against government corruption

Social media footage shows the protesters assembled on a large street scrambling as the police begin giving chase and shooting tear gas to control the crowd.

But President Klaus Iohannis, a critic of the left-wing government, condemned "the brutal intervention of riot police" on Friday night. A journalist filming the rally Romania's Hotnews online news site said he was kicked and shoved by riot police.

Initial data indicated that more than 400 people received medical care at the square and two gendarmes were attacked, it said.

According to the World Bank, up to a quarter of the Romanian population - between three and five million people - live and work overseas, sending back around $5bn (£3.9bn) to one of the EU's least developed countries.

Peaceful rallies have repeatedly been held since the Social Democrats took power in early 2017 and tried to decriminalize several graft offences. Protesters threw bottles at police and other items.

We recall that earlier clashes of people and police took place in Bucharest during the anti-government protests.

Romania ranks as one of the EU's most corrupt states, and its justice system is kept under special monitoring by Brussels. The country's anti-corruption agency has pursued a number of corruption cases, and in 2016 managed to prosecute 713 officials, according to the AP.

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But in July, Laura Codruta Kovesi, the leading anti-corruption prosecutor, was fired. President Iohannis had been under extensive pressure from the PSD government to agree to her removal.

There were no immediate reports of life-threatening injuries, but Militaru said a female colleague had been "brutally beaten" and has a suspected fractured spine.

This summer, the PSD also moved forward with a judicial overhaul that some observers see as a threat to the rule of law in Romania. The changes are being challenged in the constitutional court.

They joined tens of thousands outside government headquarters in scorching temperatures, waving Romanian and European Union flags and demanding the cabinet's resignation.

After Iohannis criticized the police response to Friday's demonstration, Prime Minister Viorica Dancila said Iohannis was "inciting the population against the authorities", AFP reported.

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, whose country now holds the European Union rotating presidency, criticised the violence, which also saw a cameraman for Austria's public broadcaster hurt.

"We expect full explanations", he wrote.

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