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Romanian Protests Continue After Corruption Hearing Against Powerful Politician

A young family protests against the controversial corruption decrees in Bucharest in front of the government headquarters on February 13.

Thousands of people across Romania have protested against their government for a 15th consecutive night after a court hearing where a powerful politician denied putting no-work jobs on the public payroll.

The case against Liviu Dragnea, leader of the ruling Social Democratic Party, stems from his time as a regional party chief.

Dragnea said after a hearing in his trial on February 14 that he was innocent and that the testimony implicating him was false.

Prosecutors have alleged Dragnea intervened to keep two women who were working for the Social Democratic Party on the public payroll of a family-welfare agency where they were not actually working.

The women have pleaded guilty. The next hearing in Dragnea's case is on March 28.

Romania's center-left government passed an emergency decree in late January decriminalizing official misconduct, which would have helped Dragnea.

But the decree sparked huge protests from demonstrators who said the government was undermining efforts to crack down on official corruption.

Prime Minister Sorin Grindeanu and his cabinet repealed the measure on February 5.

But protests have continued daily, with demonstrators calling for the government's resignation.

Based on reporting by Reuters, AP, AFP, and