Belfast Telegraph

Friday 22 August 2014

Romanian throws himself off balcony

Adrian Sobaru gestures before throwing himself from a balcony in Romania's Parliament
Adrian Sobaru throws himself from the balcony just as the prime minister began to speak
Sobaru suffered fractures to the face, and other non life-threatening injuries, according to a hospital official

Romania's government survived a no-confidence motion in Parliament in a session overshadowed by a man who flung himself from the chamber's balcony, apparently in protest over the government austerity measures.

A loud thud reverberated in the chamber after the man, Adrian Sobaru - identified by the country's public television station as one of its engineers - jumped from a height of about 7m (23ft) shortly after Prime Minister Emil Boc greeted the lawmakers.

Sobaru's injuries were not life-threatening, and no one else was injured.

Boc looked startled and rushed over to Sobaru, along with other lawmakers, before Speaker Mircea Geoana briefly postponed the session. Boc called the incident "a tragedy that shocked me," and appealed for calm "in these tough times."

The session resumed without the presence of opposition lawmakers, who walked out when their request to reschedule the motion was not approved. The opposition needed 236 votes to topple the government, which survived because no vote for the motion was cast.

Romania's government is mired in recession and it recently slashed public sector wages by one-fourth. Sales tax was hiked from 19 to 24 percent, measures adopted by the government to keep the budget deficit at 6.8 percent in 2010. Its economy is expected to decline by 2 percent this year, after it contracted by 7.1 percent in 2009. The cuts have angered many Romanians.

Photos show Sobaru standing on a balcony above where lawmakers were sitting before he jumped wearing a white T-shirt bearing the words: "You've pierced us. You've killed our children's future. Freedom", in a reference to government policy.

The first line was a reference to President Traian Basescu, who upon winning the presidential race in 2009 said "I've pierced them," using a well-known line from a Romanian movie.

As emergency medical workers took him out on a stretcher, Sobaru shouted "Freedom!" - echoing cries of the 1989 fall of communism in which more than 1,300 people died. Romanians are commemorating the 21st anniversary of the uprising in which authorities shot unarmed protesters.

Catalin Carstoiu, manager at the University Hospital, said Sobaru sustained face wounds and other non life-threatening injuries and will undergo surgery and psychological counselling.

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