• Romanian PM tells EU: Force against protesters was justified

    Updated:
    BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) - Romania's prime minister on Friday defended the use of force by riot police during a violent anti-government protest that left more than 450 people injured earlier this month.

    Prime Minister Viorica Dancila sent a letter to EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker in which she alleged that other politicians, including Romanian President Klaus Iohannis, had tried to "violently remove a legitimate government."

    She said demonstrators tried to break through police lines protecting the government offices and officers legally responded to the violence.

    Romania's riot police have been accused of being heavy-handed with the mainly peaceful protesters in the Aug 10 anti-corruption protest. More than 200 criminal complaints have been filed against police. Dancila said authorities were investigating the claims.

    Her letter - her first comment on the protest - came after EU spokesman Christian Spahr said Thursday that "peaceful protests ended in violence and violence can never be a solution in politics. "

    Critics say Romania has backtracked in fighting corruption since the ruling Social Democratic Party assumed power in 2016. Spahr said the EU attached "great importance to the independence of the judiciary and the fight against corruption."

    Protesters are holding a vigil Friday to mark a week since police fired tear gas and water cannons.

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