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Thousands March In Romania Against Plan To Pardon Criminals

News reports said the total number of protesters in Bucharest was between 10,000 and 40,000 people.

Thousands of people marched through the Romanian capital of Bucharest and other cities to protest government plans to pardon corrupt politicians and decriminalize other offenses.

Protesters gathered in Bucharest's University Square on January 29, calling the ruling Social Democratic Party "the red plague," the Associated Press reported. They marched on to Victory Square, the site of many of the government’s main offices.

News reports put the total number of protesters at 10,000 to 40,000. No official figures were available.

Prime Minister Sorin Grindeanu has said he wants emergency authority to pardon prisoners to ease prison overcrowding.

On January 29, he said the protests had been "politicized" and criticized President Klaus Iohannis, who took part in a similar protest last week.

Iohannis, the prosecutor-general, the Supreme Court, and special prosecutors fighting organized crime have criticized the plan.

The draft decrees have concerned some people who complain about a lack of transparency and of legislating through decrees instead of through parliament.

Critics have also said Grindeanu's proposal would benefit party allies convicted of corruption.

The government says its proposal would lead to the release of 2,500 prisoners. Prison authorities put the number at around 3,700.

Based on reporting by AP, Reuters and AFP