Romania to probe alleged police violence at protest

Bucharest, Romania Published: Aug 14, 2018, 10:36 AM(IST)

A man stands guard in front of Romanian anti riot police during clashes at a demonstration in front of the Romanian Government headquarters, in Bucharest. Photograph:( AFP )

Romania has opened an enquiry into alleged police violence at a mass anti-corruption protest against the leftwing government last week where hundreds were injured, military prosecutors said Monday.

Around 80,000 people -- many of them Romanians living abroad -- demonstrated late Friday in Bucharest, accusing the government of corruption and urging it to resign.

Police used water cannon, tear gas, pepper spray and batons to disperse the crowd. More than 450 people, including 30 police, were hurt and around 30 arrested, leading to widespread criticism.

"Until now we have received about 30 complaints, and my colleagues are interviewing those who were injured," prosecutor Ionel Corbu said, adding "all those suspected to have acted against the law" will be questioned.

Prosecutors will also analyse video recordings of the security forces, the media and demonstrators.

Following smaller, peaceful demonstrations on Saturday and Sunday, around 2,000 people rallied in the centre of the Romanian capital late Monday as the anti-government protests continued for a fourth consecutive day.

"At the end of the day, someone has to pay the taxes and levies for the good-for-nothings who are over there," protester Catalin Gheorghe, 23, said, pointing to the government headquarters.

Also Monday the Israeli Embassy said that four of its citizens were pulled out of a taxi by security forces and beaten although they did not take part in Friday's protest and showed their passports.

"The incident is unacceptable and extremely serious. The Israeli tourists who had suffered due to the brutal intervention will file a penal complaint against the aggressors," the embassy said in a statement.

Police have said they responded in a "gradual and proportionate" manner to violence allegedly perpetrated by dozens of football hooligans who tried to break the police cordon and threw rocks and water bottles at security forces.

Romania's centre-right President Klaus Iohannis, a government critic, in a televised message Monday again condemned "the brutal intervention of the police". 

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