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Romanians Continue Protests Over Judicial Changes Ahead Of Senate Debate

Romanian President Klaus Werner Iohannis

More than 4,000 people have marched in the frozen streets of Bucharest to protest the ruling party of Romania’s plan to revamp the judiciary system, which critics say endangers the rule of law.

Protesters in the capital on December 17 yelled "Thieves!" and "Step down!" as they marched from the government headquarters to parliament.

The country's Senate on December 18 will begin debating changes to the criminal code planned by the ruling Social Democratic party.

Opponents have taken to the streets since the start of the year to protest the laws, which were approved last week by the lower house of parliament.

If the Senate approves, the legislation will be sent to President Klaus Iohannis, who has expressed opposition to the laws.

The European Commission, the U.S. State Department, Iohannis, a centrist, and thousands of magistrates have assailed the changes, saying it will put the judicial system under political control.

The Social Democrat-led government denies the allegations and says the changes will help modernize the system that has been held over since the communist era.

Based on reporting by Reuters, dpa, and Mediafax