Thousands of Romanians protested corruption and police responded with force

Romania protest- Bucharest riot SDP

Around 440 people, including 24 police officers, were injured during an overnight mass demonstration against government corruption in Bucharest, emergency services announced on Saturday.

Several journalists, including an Austrian public television ORF cameraman, said they were attacked with tear gas by riot police. 10 police officers were injured and over 400 protesters requiring medical attention. He also said he requested the attorney general look into the legality of the riot police's intervention.

Protesters scuffle with police during Friday's demonstration in Bucharest.

On Friday, more than 50,000 people took to the streets against what they described as entrenched corruption and low wages. At least 3 million Romanians live and work overseas, but local media reported that a number of them returned home to take part in this weekend's demonstrations, which also took place in other parts of the country. Protesters threw bottles at police and other items.

Among the protesters was truck driver Daniel Ostafi, 42, who moved to Italy 15 years ago in search of a future he says Romania could not offer his family.

We recall that earlier clashes of people and police took place in Bucharest during the anti-government protests.

In 2015, Romania's prime minister - a member of the Social Democratic Party who was tried for corruption, fraud and tax evasion while he was in office - resigned after a deadly nightclub fire that was blamed in part on corruption and poor safety oversight.

Romania, a country of 20 million which hosts a US ballistic missile defence station, remains among the poorest and most corrupt members of the EU.

In July, President Klaus Iohannis approved the dismissal of anti-corruption prosecutor Laura Codruta Kovesi, who had been leading corruption investigations on local and national politicians.

Mr Iohannis had been under extensive pressure from the PSD government to agree to her removal. Those changes made it through parliament but are now being challenged in the country's constitutional court. Sebastian Kurz, chancellor of Austria, which holds the European Union rotating presidency said: "We strongly condemn the violent clashes in Bucharest where numerous demonstrators and journalists were injured". There have also been long-running waves of protests against judicial reforms - at their peak drawing an estimated half a million people nationwide in February 2017.

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