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Romanian senator announces resignation to clear name in manslaughter probe

Senator Gabriel Oprea says he doesn't want protection offered by parliamentary immunity, but wants to clear his name. He called on prosecutors to open their criminal investigation, saying he wants to clear his name.

A Romanian politician who has avoided a criminal investigation surrounding a manslaughter charge because of parliamentary immunity announced Friday that he will resign his senate seat, clearing the path for the investigation.

Gabriel Oprea was a deputy prime minister in October 2015 when he was riding in a motorcade in which he was not entitled, when one of his police escorts was killed after his motorcycle hit a pothole in rainy conditions.

Romanian Senator, and former Interior Minister, Gabriel Oprea.

Senator, and former Interior Minister, Gabriel Oprea

Last week Romania's senate shut down the investigation because of Oprea's parliamentary immunity. On Thursday thousands of demonstrators took to the streets to protest.

Senators denied prosecutors' request for an inquiry into whether Oprea was liable for the accident by using the motorcade, sparking street protests that were expected to continue on Friday.

The family of the dead police officer Bogdan Gigina, said they want an investigation to go forward.

"I am not hiding behind any immunity and, like the Gigina family, I want the truth about the accident," Oprea wrote on his Facebook page. He has denied wrongdoing.

A mother hugs her child during a protest next to Romanian Parliament in Bucharest.

A mother hugs her child during a protest in Bucharest

Senator wants name cleared

Oprea said he wants the senate to repeat the vote and approve the inquiry however it's unclear if procedures will allow it.

"To disperse all doubt, I am announcing that I will resign from the senate," Oprea said.

Prosecutors still need approval for the probe from the country's president - a legal requirement for all former cabinet ministers. But as President Klaus Iohannis has criticized the senate vote to stop the investigation it is expected that he will give the go-ahead for the inquiry.

Public outrage over motorcades exploded after it was revealed that Oprea used a motorcade five times a day while he was a minister.

Oprea initially refused to resign as minister, but stepped down last November when the government collapsed following street protests over a nightclub fire that killed 64.

bik/jil (Reuters, AP)