Prime minister Viorica Dancila announced on Friday, August 2, that she decided to dismiss education minister Ecaterina Andronescu following a controversial remark the minister made on TV related to the kidnapping of a 15-year old girl. Culture minister Daniel Breaz is to be in charge of the education portfolio as well until a permanent minister is appointed.
Referring to the tragedy in Caracal, Ecaterina Andronescu said in a TV show that the 15-year-old who was presumably killed by her kidnapper after hitchhiking shouldn’t have gotten into the man’s car. “Still, my parents taught me not to get in a car with a stranger," she said in a talk show at Antena 3, according to local G4media.ro.
"For example, Alexandra – I looked into it at the School Inspectorate – was going to school, she had a (transport) subscription. What determined her to hitchhike? I think that we should, at the beginning of the school year, introduce a child protection system in all schools and teach them to protect themselves, to stay away from such situations. I learned this at home... I think that these things should also be repeated at school,” Andronescu elaborated in the TV show.
The prime minister reacted and decided on Friday to dismiss Ecaterina Andronescu “for deeply wrong statements made recently in a TV show.”
“These are statements that show Mrs. Andronescu’s lack of understanding - in particular, of the Caracal case and, in general, of how we should protect our children from kidnappings, aggression, abuse, and human trafficking. It is an irresponsible attitude, which does not reflect the Government's position,” Dancila wrote on her Facebook page.
Meanwhile, Ecaterina Andronescu said that she learned from the television that she was dismissed and that the PM did not inform her about this decision, according to Digi24.ro. She also tried to explain her statement, arguing that what she actually meant to say was that the school should teach children to protect themselves.
“My intention was to say that if parents do not tell them, we at school have an obligation to help children understand how to stay safe from criminals. We were planning to start a campaign in the fall, to educate them,” Andronescu said. “My intention was not to accuse Alexandra (e.n. the 15-year-old girl who was kidnapped and possibly killed in Caracal) or her parents. That’s not how I thought things, I’m not that kind of person.”
Ecaterina Andronescu is the second minister to leave the Romanian government in a single week, amid the scandal surrounding the tragedy in Caracal. The first to leave was interior minister Nicolae Moga, who decided to resign after only six days in office.
Alexandra Macesanu, 15, was kidnapped on July 24 after hitchhiking. Her abductor is a car mechanic from the town of Caracal, who also admitted to killing Alexandra and another girl who went missing in mid-April. However, nothing is certain so far, as the police haven’t found the two bodies. But the entire case triggered a big scandal after information about the authorities’ slow intervention started to surface.
Alexandra managed to call the emergency number 112 three times in the morning of July 25 but the police managed to locate the main suspect many hours later and searched his home only on Friday morning. The girl was not there when they broke into the house, but they found possible human remains in a barrel outside. Media reports said that the forensic anthropology analysis on the bones found in the barrel identified the remains as belonging to a girl between 12 and 17 years old. However, the analysis doesn’t say if the bones belong to Alexandra or not, and a DNA test expected next week is to clarify that.
(Photo source: Inquam Photos/Mircea Rosca)
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