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Sunday 25 June 2017

Romanian president in court bid to have official misconduct law halted

People next to a burning kiosk after minor clashes erupted during a protest in Bucharest (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)
People next to a burning kiosk after minor clashes erupted during a protest in Bucharest (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)

Romania's president is to ask judges to declare unconstitutional a government decree that dilutes what qualifies as corruption, after hundreds of thousands protested against the measure.

President Klaus Iohannis said he would take the emergency decree to the Constitutional Court, which is the last legal resort to stop the law.

The government passed an emergency ordinance early on Wednesday to decriminalise cases of official misconduct if the funds involved are less than 200,000 leu (£37,000).

Huge protests erupted in the capital Bucharest and spread to cities around Romania in the past two evenings.

Interior minister Carmen Dan said 200,000 took to the streets in Bucharest and in dozens other towns across the country late on Wednesday in one of the biggest protests since communism ended in the country in 1989.

Eight people were injured and four of those - two riot police and two demonstrators - were hospitalised with minor injuries during clashes on Wednesday.

Twenty people were detained after some protesters threw firecrackers, stones and smoke bombs.

Mr Iohannis criticised the interior ministry, which is in charge of police, for failing to contain "instigators".

He asked Mr Dan to send him a report about the way the protest was policed.

Demonstrators say the measure will help government allies and other officials facing corruption charges, and will encourage public officials to steal on the job.

About a third of corruption prosecutions focus on abuse-in-office charges.

AP

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