Romania's interior minister resigns over teen murder outcry

Bucharest (AFP) –


Romania's Interior Minister Nicolae Moga resigned on Tuesday amid a wave of public revulsion over a murder case in which police failed to react in time to save a teenage girl.

The case has sparked an outcry against the authorities, with thousands of demonstrators taking to the streets of Bucharest on Saturday evening.

"I took this decision to safeguard a part of the prestige of the ministry, which has been severely damaged by the faulty actions of some of its employees," said Moga of his resignation.

Moga is the third high-ranking official to quit over the case in the space of a week, following the departure of the chief of police, Ioan Buda, and the head of the Special Telecommunications Service (STS), Ionel Vasilca.

A suspect, 65-year-old Gheorghe Dinca, was arrested on Sunday in the southern town of Caracal.

He has admitted to kidnapping and killing the 15-year-old girl, Alexandra, but also another girl who disappeared in April called Luiza, according to his lawyer.

Dinca's lawyer also says prosecutors have suspicions that he might be responsible for more than the two crimes he has already confessed to.

Three other police chiefs in the region where Caracal is located have also been fired and eight officers are under investigation for alleged negligence in their handling of the case.

On Thursday, Alexandra, who was abducted while hitch-hiking home, managed to ring the emergency 112 number three times and give police clues about the location where she was being held by her captor.

She yelled "he's coming, he's coming" before the line was cut, police said.

Critics allege that officials failed to take the alert seriously and reacted too late to locate and help save the teen.

Romanian President Klaus Iohannis denounced on Tuesday "a long chain of errors" in the case and demanded measures to ensure "such tragedies can be avoided".