August 10 protest anniversary marks fourth year with no major convictions
No sentence has yet been passed and no persons of political importance have even been tried in connection to the many cases of police brutality that happened during the August 10 protest against the Government four years ago.
On August 10, 2018, roughly 100,000 people protested in front of the Government’s headquarters in Bucharest's Victory square against the Social-Democratic government led by Viorica Dancila. Many of them were Romanians that had settled abroad but had come for the protest. Hours into the protest, gendarmes in full riot gear violently dispersed the crowds, using tear gas and force on peaceful groups that included the elderly or children.
Over 700 people pressed charges against the police afterward, leading the military prosecutor’s office to open a criminal investigation into the way in which the gendarmes squashed the protest. The gendarmerie pressed its own charges, accusing the August 10 protesters of trying to organize a coup and take down the government.
In the following years, the investigation was passed from one prosecutorial office to another, finally arriving at the Directorate for Investigating Organized Crime and Terrorism (DIICOT), which, according to HotNews, “killed it.”
There were, however, a few convictions. Several protesters that attacked an isolated gendarme, a woman, were prosecuted, and a dozen others were tried and convicted for disturbing the peace in a public place. Most, however, received light sentences with no jail time.
Several heads and members of the riot police, or the gendarmerie, are still currently under investigation, but no trial or sentence is in sight. Moreover, the Social Democratic leaders of the government and the ministry of the interior have not faced any legal inquiry.
There is mounting proof of certain investigators’ unwillingness to proceed with the case. One head of DIICOT – who later had to resign after her husband was convicted for corruption – noted that the prosecutor assigned to the August 10 case did not take into account evidence collected by prosecutors who previously handled the case. The prosecutor in question also did not interview the suspects, victims or witnesses once more after he took the case. When they were eventually summoned, police chiefs refused to work with the prosecutors or give any statement.
Opposition politicians blame the government and its composing parties for burying the case.
“Four years of silence. The August 10 case is buried by PSD with PNL’s help. Those who gave the order to use violence against the protesters are either free or now ruling Romania,” said opposition MP Iulian Bulai in a post on social media.
(Photo source: Inquam Photos / Octav Ganea)