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Protesters in Romania hold huge demonstration over government 'anti-corruption U-turn'

Protesters in Romania hold huge demonstration over government 'anti-corruption U-turn'
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By Euronews
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Protesters in Bucharest have condemned a government decision to decriminalise some misconduct offences, in one of the biggest demonstrations since the 1989…

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Protesters in Bucharest have condemned a government decision to decriminalise some misconduct offences, in one of the biggest demonstrations since the 1989 revolution.

Tens of thousands of angry Romanians claim the passing of an emergency decree on Tuesday will allow corrupt politicians to escape justice.

The change in the law will decriminalises official misconduct in cases where the financial damage is less than 200,000 lei (44,000 euros).

Journalist and blogger Lucian Mindruta was one of those taking part in the protest:

“It’s an incredible manifestation of disappointment from these people who feel that they have been cheated. They have been deceived by the government. This Socialist government came to power only one month ago and in one month they managed to have 100.000 people unprecedented since the revolution on the streets against it.”

Protest against corruption in #Romaniapic.twitter.com/9BPJXe8WTe

— Român Mândru (@MandruRoman) February 1, 2017

Critics say the change in the law will reverse Romania’s anti-corruption fight that has drawn widespread praise internationally.

“I never dared to think that this was possible. I have always thought that there was some logic, some common sense that would lead to a valid law. But when I saw what has happened, I was wrong,” said writer Florin Iaru.

100.000+ on the streets of Bucharest. 100.000+ in other cities in the country. The biggest protest in the last 25 years #Romania#Corruptionpic.twitter.com/71Eg23BER6

— Daniel Rascol (@rdrascol) February 1, 2017

Some are calling for the new Social Democrat government of Prime Miniser Sorin Grindeanu to resign, while others just want the decree to be repealed.

“We don’t want the government to quit, because they promised a lot of things to their voters and a lot of ambitious things and we would like to see it,” was the message from one protester.

Government position

The change in the law will decriminalises official misconduct in cases where the financial damage is less than 200,000 lei (44,000 euros).

The government is also aiming to grant amnesty to those sentenced to jail terms shorter than five years in relation to certain crimes and halve prison terms for those with young children, pregnant women, or those over 60.

In response to days of protests the government has defended its actions saying the changes will bring the criminal code in line with recent constitutional court rulings and ease prison overcrowding, claims disputed by many senior judicial figures.

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