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BUCHAREST (Romania), May 4 (SeeNews) - Romanian senators have backtracked on their decision to include some corruption offences in a draft bill on prison pardons, after some 2,000 people gathered in Bucharest to protest against attempts to water down anti-graft legislation, official figures showed on Thursday.
The legal affairs committee in the upper house of Romania's Parliament, the Senate, reversed its decision from Wednesday in a 5-5 vote with 4 abstentions at the request of members of the committee from National Liberal Party (PNL).
Members of the commitee from center-right Save Romania Union (USR) and Democratic Alliance of Hungarians in Romania (UDMR) also voted to exclude corruption offences such as influence peddling and bribery from the draft pardon bill. Members of the Social Democratic Party (PSD) and Liberal-Democrat Alliance (ALDE) abstained, according to data posted on the parliament's website.
Some 2,000 people gathered in Victoriei Square, in central Bucharest, on Wednesday night to protest against the committee's decision to open the way to granting pardon to officials convicted on corruption charges.
At the beginning of February, the Social Democrat cabinet led by Sorin Grindeanu approved an emergency decree which amended the Criminal Code in a way that would have made abuse of office punishable by jail only if the sums involved exceeded 200,000 lei ($47,971/44,000 euro).
The decree was hastily published in the Official Gazette, sparking the biggest rallies in Romania since the fall of communism in 1989. Yielding to public pressure, the government repealed the decree on February 5, but street rallies continued until the beginning of March, with demands for the resignation of the government.
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