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Thousands of Romanians stage anti-graft protests for 5th day

June 24, 2018
FILE - In this Friday, April 27, 2018 file photo, the leader of Romania's ruling Social Democratic party, Liviu Dragnea, grimaces as he walks out of the anti-corruption prosecutors' office, in Bucharest, Romania. A Romanian court has handed down a 3 ½ year prison sentence for the powerful leader of the ruling Social Democratic Party for official misconduct. The High Court of Cassation and Justice on Thursday, June 21 sentenced Liviu Dragnea, after two previous adjournments. The ruling can be appealed. There was no immediate comment from Dragnea. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda, file)
FILE - In this Friday, April 27, 2018 file photo, the leader of Romania's ruling Social Democratic party, Liviu Dragnea, grimaces as he walks out of the anti-corruption prosecutors' office, in Bucharest, Romania. A Romanian court has handed down a 3 ½ year prison sentence for the powerful leader of the ruling Social Democratic Party for official misconduct. The High Court of Cassation and Justice on Thursday, June 21 sentenced Liviu Dragnea, after two previous adjournments. The ruling can be appealed. There was no immediate comment from Dragnea. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda, file)

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — Thousands of anti-corruption protesters demonstrated in cities around Romania for a fifth day Sunday after a court sentenced the country’s most powerful politician for official misconduct.

More than 10, 000 demonstrators waved Romanian and European Union flags outside the government offices in Bucharest, singing the national anthem and using their smartphone torches to illuminate the night sky. They yelled, “We don’t want to be a nation of thieves!” and “Down with the Social Democratic Party!”

The leader of the ruling Social Democrats, Liviu Dragnea, was handed a 3 ½ year sentence this week for abuse of power in office, and the party has rallied around him, saying he should be considered innocent pending a final verdict.

Further angering many Romanians, the ruling party leaders also want to implement new laws that critics say will weaken the nation’s fight against corruption.

Thousands also turned out in the cities of Cluj, Sibiu, Iasi, Timisoara and Brasov.

“We are tired of the government’s lies and theft,” said Elena Florea, 44, a medical registrar who protested in Bucharest.

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