Nearly 500 injured in Romanian protests against government corruption

Romanians gathered in Bucharest Saturday night for a second day of protests

Romanians gathered in Bucharest Saturday night for a second day of protests

The ruling Social Democratic Party (PSD) considers organizing yet another "huge rally", similar to the one staged in early June this year, when about 150,000 people gathered in Bucharest's Victoriei Square for a large rally against the so-called shadow state and the abuses in justice.

Israel's embassy on Monday protested to the Romanian government, after four Israeli tourists were allegedly dragged out of a taxi and beaten by riot police in Bucharest, during a violent anti-corruption protest. "Video footage posted on social media show police beating non-violent protesters holding their hands up".

Interior Minister Carmen Dan said the riot police hadn't "intervened against peaceful protesters but against unsafe hooligans who attacked the state's authority".

Protesters briefly clear the center of the square after riot police fired teargas outside the government headquarters, in Bucharest, Romania.

Police have denied using excessive force, saying officers had responded to violence allegedly perpetrated by dozens of protesters in a "gradual and proportionate" manner.

President Klaus Iohannis, an opponent of the Socialist Democrat-led government and a vocal critic of its corruption policy, criticised the police reaction as "brutal".

"The interior ministry must explain urgently the way it handled tonight's events".

People wave Romanian national flags during Saturday's rally

Some people sustained head and other injuries, while others were overcome by tear gas, authorities said. 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.

An estimated 3 million Romanians live overseas, and some say they left because of corruption, low wages and a lack of opportunities.

Sorin Radu, who works in IT, said he was protesting "because we have a government where many are corrupt. I'm here to try and change something", he said.

Protests have been building against the PSD for months.

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

Romania, a country of 20 million which hosts a USA ballistic missile defence station, remains among the poorest and most corrupt members of the EU. Those changes made it through parliament but are now being challenged in the country's constitutional court.

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