Romania: Fresh protests against corruption decree

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media captionSome protesters in Bucharest threw smoke bombs at police, who responded with tear gas

Thousands of people have gathered in Bucharest and other Romanian cities for a third night of protests against a government decree that will free dozens of officials jailed for corruption.

The prime minister says he will not withdraw the measure. But the president says he will challenge it in court.

Critics say the decree will roll back progress made against corruption in Romania since it joined the EU in 2007.

Some 200,000 people protested around the country on Wednesday.

The largest protests since the fall of communism in 1989 have put pressure on the leftist government, led by Prime Minister Sorin Grindeanu of the Social Democratic Party (PSD).

They only returned to power in December after protests forced the previous leadership from power in October 2015.

image copyrightAP
image captionThe decree decriminalises several offences and makes abuse of power punishable by incarceration only if the sums involved are more than €44,000 (£38,000; $48,000)
image copyrightAFP
image captionThe new government says the decree is needed to ease overcrowding in prisons, but Mr Grindeanu's critics say he is trying to release allies convicted of corruption
image copyrightReuters
image captionProtesters on Wednesday chanted "Resign" and "Thieves, thieves". One immediate beneficiary would be the PSD leader. Others due for release include elected officials and magistrates
image copyrightAP
image captionThe emergency decree was brought in on Tuesday and comes into effect in 10 days. President Klaus Iohannis said he was referring it to the constitutional court, the second such challenge to be lodged
image copyrightEPA
image captionAt least eight people were wounded in the protests on Wednesday

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