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Romanian Judges, Prosecutors, Protest Against Legal System Changes


A Romanian man holds aloft a sign reading "All for justice" during a demonstration against planned changes in the law.

Hundreds of judges and prosecutors have protested across Romania against planned changes in the legal system that they say will hamper prosecutions and endanger public safety.

The protests on December 18 were staged outside courts in the capital, Bucharest, and other large cities such as Cluj, Galati, Brasov, and Constanta.

The magistrates' protests came a day after thousands of Romanians nationwide demonstrated in freezing weather against the ruling Social Democrats' drive to amend judicial legislation.

Changes proposed by the leftist parliamentary majority include banning public statements about investigations and trials and allowing suspects to be present when witnesses are giving testimony.

Prosecutors say that could mean, for example, the victim of a pedophile being obliged to give evidence in front of the suspected abuser.

An agency charged with prosecuting organized crime and terrorism said last week that 1,200 drug-trafficking cases would be halted if the amendments became law.

Under another proposed change, video footage of alleged offenses could no longer be shown in court.

On December 17, some 4,000 protesters marched from government headquarters to parliament in Bucharest, and thousands more staged similar demonstrations in other cities.

Centrist President Klaus Iohannis, the European Commission, and the U.S. State Department have criticized the proposed changes to judicial legislation, saying they could derail the rule of law.

The drive to change anticorruption legislation started in January, and comes as both speakers of parliament’s lower house and senate are currently on trial in separate corruption cases.

Based on reporting by mediafax.ro, hotnews.ro, AP, and Reuters
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