VIENNA/BUCHAREST – Around 440 people, including 24 police officers, were injured during an overnight mass demonstration against government corruption in Bucharest, emergency services announced on Saturday.
At least 65 people were hospitalized after police used tear gas, water cannons and truncheons against some of the 11,000 people that had gathered in the Romanian capital to protest corruption and demand the resignation of key government figures.
President Klaus Johannis said police had acted brutally and demanded an explanation for what he considered to be a disproportionate intervention, but security authorities insisted Saturday in a press conference that it was legitimate state violence and they were only responding to attacks.
Demonstrators were demanding the resignation of the parliament’s president, Liviu Dragnea, and Prime Minister Viorica Dancila.
The coalition government, led by the Social Democratic Party (PSD), has in the last few years approved a series of controversial measures that critics claim complicate the fight against corruption and have led to a series of mass demonstrations.
Last July, Parliament approved a decriminalization of abuse of power, a legislative change that would benefit Dragnea, who a month earlier had been sentenced to over three years in prison for that very crime.
The government also recently fired the leading anti-corruption prosecutor.