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News 27 Oct 15

Romanian Policeman's Motorcade Death Sparks Anger

Romania’s Interior Minister has refused to resign despite public anger over the death of a policeman who was killed while accompanying his motorcade.

Marian Chiriac

Interior Minister Gabriel Oprea. | Photo: Facebook

Romanian Interior Minister Gabriel Oprea on Monday said he was unaware that the policeman had been killed while accompanying his motorcade and insisted that he had not broken any law.

The police officer was fatally injured last Tuesday evening when he rode over a pothole while he was riding with Oprea’s motorcade.

The 28-year old officer was speeding towards a traffic intersection to clear the way for the motorcade amid rainfall and low visibility.

For several days, the police and the Interior Ministry withheld information about the deadly accident.

In his first comments about the incident on Monday, Oprea said that his motorcade stopped that evening, but he was not told why, and that a police officer then told the vehicles to move on.

Oprea insisted he did not break the law by using the motorcade, but has not said why he needed one.

He refused to answer any questions from journalists.

Prosecutors have already started an investigation into possible manslaughter, but said they have received incomplete information from the Interior Ministry and police.

Hundreds of people protested on Sunday in Bucharest calling for Oprea’s resignation.

Government ministers have been accused on social media of abusing their positions by overusing motorcades, which often block traffic in the busy capital.

Analysts said that if the officials continue to hush up the facts, public discontent and speculation will continue to rise.

“Mr. Oprea has an obligation to offer all possible information related to the tragic death of the policeman,” said journalist Marian Siltanoiu.

“So far, he has tried to prevent information from coming out, so there is no surprise that so many people are asking for his resignation. It’s up to Mr. Oprea’s conscience whether to resign, but is his obligation to inform [people],” he added.

President Klaus Iohannis has called on Oprea and Prime Minister Victor Ponta to address the situation.

The main opposition National Liberal Party also announced on Monday that it plans to initiate a no-confidence vote on this issue.

Ponta however has criticised opposition politicians and some journalists, saying they were “using a tragedy for political gain”.

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