Thousands have demonstrated across Romania over a deadly nightclub fire that killed 32. The protesters have demanded the prime minister resign, alleging corruption had allowed the club to skirt safety regulations.
More than 20,000 people marched Tuesday to the government headquarters and the interior ministry in the capital, Bucharest, while other protests spread out in the central Romanian cities of Brasov and Ploiesti. More rallies were being promoted on social media across Romania in coming days.
The marches took place in response to the deaths of 32 people in a nightclub fire in Bucharest last Friday. Dozens were seriously hurt.
Protesters were still pouring into the streets late Tuesday evening, carrying banners saying "corruption kills" and chanting "murderers!"
Some demonstrators briefly scuffled with riot police as they demand authorities punish those responsible for the blaze, the deadliest of its kind in the country's history.
"Wake up and do something," a woman protester screamed as thousands of marchers blocked traffic on one of Bucharest's busiest boulevards. "We want justice."
The fire was sparked by a pyrotechnic display at a heavy metal concert inside the Colectiv club in Bucharest. The fireworks display set non-fireproofed insulation foam ablaze, triggering a stampede towards the single exit.
Outside the Colectiv club, thousands of people laid candles and flowers in remembrance.
Criminal charges filed
A Bucharest court decided Tuesday to grant prosecutors a 30-day arrest warrant against the three owners of Colectiv, who were taken into custody on Monday on suspicion of manslaughter.
"All I can do is keep my head bowed before judgement," owner Costin Mincu said on Facebook through his lawyer, so far the only comment from any of the three men. "I regret what happened enormously."
The government has also passed emergency legislation that would allow Romania's disaster response authority to immediately shut venues that do not have permits, take adequate safety measures or observe entry limits.
Even so, public anger about the nightclub fire continues unabatated, with calls for the resignation of Prime Minister Victor Ponta, Interior Minister Gabriel Oprea and the mayor of the district where the nightclub was located.
Disquiet has also been directed towards the Romanian Orthodox Church, which has been uncharacteristically quiet despite the scale of the tragedy. Elders in the church caused widespread indignation after they criticized concertgoers for listening to "Satanist" music at the rock concert held on Halloween Eve.
The church's patriarch did however attend a Tuesday mass held in memory of Claudiu Petre, a 36-year-old photographer who was killed trying to rescue people in the fire.
jar/jr (Reuters, AFP)