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Thousands protest in Romania over ‘attack on judicial independence’

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By Chris Harris
Thousands protest in Romania over ‘attack on judicial independence’

<p>Protesters were back on Romania’s streets in their thousands on Sunday – this time defending what they see as an attack on judicial independence.</p> <p>MPs are currently debating plans by the ruling Social Democrats that could see the judicial system put under political control.</p> <p>It comes after the country had its biggest protests since the 1989 revolution earlier this year after the government tried to push through a law to decriminalise some graft offences that would have let those convicted of corruption – including politicians – off the hook.</p> <p>Sunday’s demonstrations saw 12,000 people on the streets of the capital Bucharest, according to police sources, and thousands elsewhere in the country.</p> <p>“I cannot remain passive in front of this attempt to undermine the independence of the judiciary,” Oana, a 35-year-old doctor told <span class="caps">AFP</span> news agency.</p> <p>The proposals would see reducing the responsibility of Romania’s National Anti-Corruption Directorate (<span class="caps">DNA</span>) and stop it from being able to investigate magistrates. At the same time, the Ministry of Justice would have more control of prosecutors.</p> <p>Romania, one of the most corrupt countries in the European Union, has made strides in tackling the problem in recent years.</p> <p>The <span class="caps">DNA</span> has been praised for leading the crackdown and a survey found 60 percent of Romanians trusted the institution.</p>