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Romania Prosecuted 1,300 Officials for Graft Last Year

Protesters display the Romanian national flag colors during a demonstration in front of the government building in Bucharest, Romania, Feb. 12, 2017.

Nearly 1,300 officials were sent to trial last year in Romania in corruption cases with damages amounting to 260 million euros ($273 million), the country’s chief anti-corruption prosecutor said Thursday

Laura Kovesi Codruta, who heads the country’s anti-graft agency, said three ministers, 17 lawmakers, 16 magistrates and 20 state company officials were among high-level cases targeted by the agency last year.

Kovesi, presenting the agency’s annual report to senior judges, prosecutors and magistrates at the ornate National Military Circle in downtown Bucharest, said prosecutors need predictable laws to do their job.

Last month, the government issued a highly contentious decree that would have decriminalized official misconduct, sparking weeks of massive anti-graft protests. Premier Sorin Grindeanu eventually canceled the measure.

Kovesi said: “We want to fight corruption” but “efforts need to be sustained by a stable legislative and institutional framework.” She said one in four of the agency’s prosecutions is a case of abuse of office.

President Klaus Iohannis called Romania’s anti-corruption drive, praised by Western allies, “necessary … if we want a modern state,” adding “at the beginning of this year ... (it) was really put to the test.”

Iohannis, who supports the anti-corruption drive, said: “Romania is not only a model of good practice, but a source of inspiration for citizens of other countries to publicly show they refuse to accept acts of corruption.”