Romania’s new minister quits over murder of 2 girls

Romania’s Interior Minister Nicolae Moga, above, (Credit: resigned on Tuesday, just six days after taking office, over a kidnapped girl’s murder the police could have prevented, agencies report.

Moga, who was initially reluctant to take up the ministerial post, said he is resigning to save the prestige of the ministry which is understaffed, underfunded and poorly trained.

He said efforts have been made to identify the culprits adding that investigations will continue.

Moga took office on July 24 after interior minister Carmen Dan resigned. But the scandal and protests over police failure to save two teenagers from a killer cut short his career.   

Cases of two girls

Alexandra Macesanu, 15, went missing on Wednesday last week while Luiza Melencu, 18, disappeared around mid-April this year.

Both of them were kidnapped by Gheorghe Dinca, 66, a car mechanic, while they were hitchhiking to their respective homes in Dobrosloveni, southern Romania.

On Friday, police found human remains and jewellery in a metal barrel during a search in detained suspect Dinca’s home in Caracal.

Dinca confessed to murdering Macesanu and Melencu.

Forensics analysts are yet to confirm the identity of the human remains. But while sieving the ash in the barrel, they found fragments of bone, human teeth, three rings, a necklace and two necklace fragments carrying burn traces.

An earring was found in Dinca’s car. Macesanu’s mother recognised the jewellery as that of her daughter.

The cases sparked massive public protests in Romania’s capital Bucharest.

Thousands of protesters were angry over the failure of police to locate Macesanu even after she called the emergency number three times from the kidnapper’s home.

Police visited three wrong addresses before locating Dinca’s home after 12 hours. They then waited until dawn for the official order to conduct the raid. Nineteen hours had passed by then.

Police also failed to register a missing report filed by Macesanu’s parents who complained that officers took their daughter’s case lightly and acted too late.

Dinca told police he caught Macesanu while she was trying to contact the police on Thursday, murdered her and burned the body.

According to police, he seemed to have acted similarly in the case of the first victim, Melencu.

Many heads were rolled after the murders of the two teenagers came to light.

Director of the Special Telecommunications Service resigned early this week over his team’s failure to immediately pinpoint the location of Alexandra to police.

Eight policemen who were tasked with tracing and rescuing the girl are facing investigation.

Earlier, Romania’s top cop and several provincial police heads were sacked.

President and PM respond

Romanian President Klaus Iohannis has called for urgent judicial reforms while Prime Minister Viorica Dancila sought harsher penalties for crimes like the Caracal murders.

Coming down heavily on the ruling coalition of Social Democratic Party and Alliance of Liberals and Democrats (PSD-ALDE), Iohannis said Romanians need to be protected in their homes and streets.

Sadly, institutions that are expected to maintain law and order for the safety of citizens have failed, the president said. 

He set an August-end deadline for the government to take steps to improve rapid response systems for public safety institutions, including location-finding technology for emergency calls.

Dancila said he is mulling calling a referendum on whether people favour harsher penalties for murder, rape and paedophilia.