Romania protests: Thousands rally against government for second night

Romania protests: Thousands rally against government for second night

Romania protests: Thousands rally against government for second night

Romanian police on Saturday defended their use of force after an anti-government protest turned violent leaving 455 people, including three dozen riot police, needing medical treatment.

The coalition government, led by the Social Democratic Party (PSD), has in the last few years approved a series of controversial measures that critics claim complicate the fight against corruption and have led to a series of mass demonstrations.

Hundreds wound up injured when the police responded with tear gas and water cannons.

Many of those protesting were expat Romanians who had returned from their new homes overseas after organizers called for rallies on social media.

Centre-right President Klaus Iohannis said he "strongly condemned the brutal intervention of the police, which was disproportionate to the attitude of most demonstrators", but added that "any form of violence is unacceptable". A journalist filming the rally Romania's Hotnews online news site said he was kicked and shoved by riot police.

Among the crowds in Bucharest were 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, and Mihai Podut, 27, a construction worker who left in 2014, first for France and later Germany.

On Friday, more than 50,000 people took to the streets against what they described as entrenched corruption and low wages.

The money provides a lifeline for rural communities in one of the EU's least developed countries.

"They were dragged out of the vehicle, even though they showed their passports and explained they had nothing" to do with the protest, the embassy said, adding that the men would file a criminal complaint.

Around 150,000 protesters gathered in Bucharest after the Social Democrats took power past year following the government passing a decree to decriminalise several corruption offences.

Police spokesman Georgian Enache defended the action of the officers, saying "the legitimate state violence" was justified as protesters had repeatedly been warned to leave Victory Square in Bucharest.

Romania is one of the poorest and most corrupt members of the European Union.

Just to the protest in Bucharest was out of about 200 thousand people. Those changes made it through parliament but are now being challenged in the country's constitutional court.

"We expect full explanations", he wrote.

People wave Romanian national flags during a demonstration against the government on Saturday, during the second day of protests.

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